Today a new batting star came into bloom in Bloem. Kevin Pietersen, in only his sixth one-day international for England, clouted his first century. It arrived at better than a run a ball, and he was rarely troubled. Each milestone in his innings - and the extravagant kiss of the badge on his England helmet - was a jolting reminder to the South Africans of what they lost when Pietersen turned Pom. It was a performance that deserved to bring victory - although he won't be too upset after a thrilling tie.
The Pietersen technique is fairly simple: an initial press forward, bat ready to kiss pad, then a rock back if the ball is short. He is especially strong on the whip to leg - one off his old sparring partner Andre Nel disappeared over the head of the leaping Jacques Kallis on the square-leg boundary, and his other six went roughly the same way off a blinking Shaun Pollock, in an over that cost 14. But Pietersen isn't just a leg man - when the gurning Nel overpitched outside off he howitzered it through the covers before anyone could move.
There's a hint of nervousness early on as Pietersen sashays across his stumps, but once set there's a solidity about his stance and approach that brings to mind Graeme Hick on one of his better days, with the same kind of intimidating Incredible-Hulk power. None of the South African bowlers - their first-choice Test attack, minus Nicky Boje and plus the chunky Justin Kemp - made much impression, all disappearing for more than five an over.
The support came mainly from Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood. Vaughan helped add 80 for the fourth wicket after three quick dismissals derailed England's handy start, before coming second to AB de Villiers's A-plus throw from the boundary. But then Collingwood proved the perfect foil for the bludgeoning Pietersen, chipping and charging to 40 from 41 deliveries, somehow carving well-pitched-up balls that seemed set to arc in and remove his off stump down to third man.
It is remarkable to think that Pietersen probably wouldn't even have been here if it hadn't been for the untimely injury to Andrew Flintoff. He did well as Flintoff's stand-in in Zimbabwe, and he has certainly looked the part since his late call-up here. That technique ought to work pretty well in Test cricket, too.
The one downer was the sight of large swathes of the Bloemfontein crowd turning their backs on the South African-born Pietersen as he walked off. A case of bad sports at Goodyear Park.
Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo.
South Africa vs England
England tour of South Africa