Surrey 448 (Roy 143, Davies 86, Foakes 63*, Jarvis 4-118) and 186 for 0 (Burns 110*, Ansari 66*) drew with Lancashire 429 (Faulkner 121, Clark 63, Dunn 3-76, Meaker 3-92)

At the Oval 3351 days ago, Kevin Pietersen arrived at the crease with the Ashes at stake. His first ball, from Glenn McGrath, was nasty, brutish and short. Pietersen looked like he got his gloves and bat out the way, but he, a heaving crowd and millions distracted in offices and schools, had to endure a few painful seconds before Billy Bowden turned down the vociferous Australian appeal.

They were worth it. As England tried to regain the Ashes after 18 years marked not just by defeat but frequent humiliation, Pietersen took to saving the game in the only way he knew how. He attacked. And then he attacked some more, slog-sweeping Shane Warne and launching a staggering assault on Brett Lee.

A decade on, and Pietersen's team were again batting in the third innings on the final day. There the similarities ended. Instead of Australia, they had to face a worthy Lancashire attack neutered by a docile pitch. The ground, a sell-out then, seemed rather desolate now. Pietersen was not even needed to bat. Zafar Ansari and Rory Burns batted with such assurance that 61 overs did not yield a single chance.

One innings, two runs and three balls over four days added up to a deeply unsatisfactory way for Pietersen to end his involvement in first-class cricket. The fact that Pietersen will not play in Surrey's next Championship match, against Leicestershire at Grace Road on Sunday, makes it highly likely he will never play red-ball cricket again. He will, however, play for Surrey in their T20 game at Arundel next week just before heading to the Caribbean Premier League.

This was not the first-class comeback Pietersen envisaged. Buoyed by comments from Colin Graves that he could yet be considered for Test cricket again, Pietersen surprised Surrey and everyone else by announcing his intention to return to County Championship cricket. Instead of earning £250,000 for an IPL stint, Pietersen preferred to play for Surrey for free instead.

He believed his chances of an England recall would be determined solely by the amount of runs he scored in county cricket. So he scored plenty.

Having endured a grim spell in T20 cricket for Surrey last year, there were legitimate concerns over whether Pietersen could still score heavily in Championship cricket. One hundred and seventy runs against Oxford MCCU, even in a non first-class match, amounted to an awesome indication of intent. A half-century followed against Glamorgan before that astounding unbeaten 355 against Leicestershire.

None of this, it is true, amounted to irrefutable evidence that Pietersen was ready to take on Australia and their Mitchells. But Andrew Strauss, the new director of England cricket, was in no mood to give him the chance. On the day of his triple century against Leicestershire, Pietersen was informed that he would never be allowed to add to his 8181 Test runs.

Alec Stewart, the Surrey director of cricket, did not want to say Pietersen would never pull on whites again. "What I'm saying is 'it's not the end'," he said. "I'm not saying 'that's it, the door's shut'. It's always open here for him. At the same time, we'll have discussions to see what fits for us and what fits for him."

"The arrangement was very much while Colin Graves - whether he did or he didn't - intimated that perhaps that door was open for him, that's why we have see him back playing county cricket again. Before that, his England career was well and truly dead.

"Then, whatever the perception of what Colin had said, it meant that the door had been pushed open a little bit - play county cricket and score runs, which he did. Then it was shut."

But, to Surrey's surprise, he still wanted to play this game against Lancashire. Perhaps he imagined that a repeat of that innings against Leicestershire would unleash a tidal wave of public pressure, leaving Strauss facing what even Sepp Blatter could not ignore.

It was not to be. Still, no one at Surrey speaks ill of him. Over six seasons, Pietersen has played 13 first-class games for Surrey. Each appearance has been marked by the unstinting professionalism that has been a hallmark, albeit one too easily forgotten, of his career. Pietersen's record for Surrey - 1395 runs at 93 apiece - is testament to as much.

"We didn't expect to see him again," Stewart said. "We've had a good relationship with him here, and he said 'I'm available if you want me to play'. I said 'we'll have you straightaway'. That's the relationship we have here.

"He has gone above and beyond the original verbal arrangement. It was great that he wanted to play, and it shows that he has respect for us and the dressing room here. We have good respect for him too.

"He's not just a player who pulls on an England shirt and does it. He has huge self-respect and self pride, but pride in playing for Surrey. The record he's got in the games he's played in the last three or four years is unbelievable. He's been a credit to himself when he's played for Surrey. We want good players, but we want good people, whether it's a Pietersen or a Sangakkara. In our dressing room, he's been that."

If this was not the farewell Pietersen envisaged, perhaps it was apt that Ashley Giles, Lancashire's director of cricket, was there. Together, the two had shared the partnership that secured the Ashes that resplendent day a decade ago.

"I've got very fond memories of playing with Kev and probably here most - that last day in the Ashes in 2005 we batted together for about three hours," Giles said. "Memories don't get any better than that. He's been a terrific player and a very good servant to the game."

"He's a different player, a clear match-winning player. For someone to do what he did here a couple of weeks ago - go out and get 350 when he's having that meeting that night shows the class of the man."

"There's an element of sadness if he doesn't play first-class cricket again, because he's a special player."

Surely that is something that even Pietersen's most vehement detractors could not dispute. For one of the most intoxicating cricketers of the 21st century, the strong likelihood is that only domestic T20 - in Australia, the Caribbean, India and perhaps sometimes England too - remains.