Peter Roebuck: Pietersen's calculated counter-attack outsmarts Warne into beating a retreat

Kevin Pietersen is an exceptionally intelligent batsman. His duel with Shane Warne was the most compelling feature of a day upon which the lion finally roared. It was a confrontation between two supremely clever cricketers, a tussle between a giant with a bat and a wizard with a ball. Here was a conflict not so much of cut and thrust as of blood and thunder, broken by pauses as Warne went around the wicket. Pietersen was interested in sport but did not intend to commit suicide.

Taking guard with his team in trouble, Pietersen produced a superbly calculated counter-attacking effort. Evidently, before the Test, the visitors had thought about how to tackle their tormentor. Not a single sweep had been played in Adelaide. It is a dangerous stroke on Antipodean surfaces. Pietersen tapped a few cross-batters but eschewed the full-blooded variety. Pad play was also avoided owing to Warne's knack of fooling batsmen with straight deliveries. Most batsmen used their feet and concentrated on shots played down the ground.

No one was better placed than Pietersen to put the strategy into practice. He took a look at the leg-spinner and then launched a withering assault. Perhaps he had been held back for this very purpose. Warne had taken 40 wickets in the previous Ashes series. Someone had to stop him.

Pietersen began by stepping down the pitch to drive the ball wide of mid-on, a shot that hurts Warne because he prefers to bowl at leg-stump and generally has been able to do so with impunity. In 2005, Pietersen had relied on the slog-sweep but a man had been placed to catch any miscue and the boundaries were longer. So he strode down the track to drive. First blood to the willow-wielder.

Now the ball was in Warne's court. He was not getting much help from another slow Australian pitch. Instead it was a battle of wits. He pushed mid-on deeper, only to be outsmarted as his foe sent the ball beyond his reach. The runs kept coming. Reluctantly, he withdrew his short leg and placed him at mid-wicket. It is odd to see Warne working without a man at bat-pad at any time, let alone when he has 647 runs to protect. Still Pietersen plundered. Warne was given a break. He deserved it. In 2005 he had bowled too many long spells.

Returning, Warne decided to change to an off-stump line. He hates to bowl to his slip as it reduces his ways of taking wickets. Now Pietersen waited for opportunities to cut. At last the leggie had his first victory as a ball stayed low and seemed to take a bottom edge. But the umpire had seen and heard nothing. Such are the fortunes of war. And fortunes usually favour the brave.

Warne went on to the defensive, aiming at the rough. It was a retreat. Pietersen had prevailed. But Warne also had his successes. A man may lose a battle and yet win the war.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam