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
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea