Pietersen and Strauss hit form ahead of South Africa
Former England captain smashes 234 while his successor also weighs in with unbeaten century
Saturday 14 July 2012
Given that he tends not to spurn the opportunity to make a point, Kevin Pietersen will have drawn particular enjoyment from the extraordinary unbeaten 234 he made against Lancashire at Guildford yesterday, an innings that has so far included eight sixes.
It came in the first match involving the England batsman and the Lancashire coach, Peter Moores, since the falling out that cost them both their jobs with the national side in 2009.
Pietersen quit the captaincy and Moores was sacked as coach after Pietersen went public about their strained relationship, paving the way for Andrew Strauss to be appointed captain and Andy Flower coach.
Making his second appearance of the season in the Championship for Surrey, Pietersen was at his imperious best to see off the threat of a heavy defeat after Lancashire had declared at 485 for 7 on the third day.
The innings included 115 runs solely off the Lancashire left-arm spinner, Simon Kerrigan, who conceded seven of Pietersen's sixes and 10 of his 30 fours.
Coming in at 49 for 2, he shared a partnership of 181 in only 34 overs with the former Somerset all-rounder Zander de Bruyn, during which he reached 100 off only 93 balls.
Kerrigan dismissed De Bruyn, who was leg before sweeping, for 94, but Pietersen was far from finished. Showing the 23-year-old Kerrigan absolutely no mercy, he added another 50 from only 37 balls to pass 150 for the 19th time in his first-class career. When he hit his sixth maximum – this time off the pace bowler, Kyle Hogg – he was clearly intent on turning his 43rd career century into a seventh double.
He duly reached that milestone from 170 balls before continuing without let-up until the close. Another 20 runs on the final day, with Surrey 55 behind overnight, will equal the career-best 254 not out he made for Nottinghamshire against Middlesex in 2002.
His fierce hitting somewhat overshadowed a fine innings earlier in the day as Lancashire's Steven Croft extended his overnight century to a career-best 154 not out before Lancashire captain Glen Chapple declared following his own dismissal for 46.
The Pietersen innings came as a timely demonstration of his quality after reports that the door has not been completely closed on him helping England defend the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September.
No such side issues are distracting Pietersen's successor as England Test captain. Back to form following his difficult winter with the bat, Andrew Strauss finished unbeaten on 127 against Nottinghamshire when weather intervened again at Uxbridge.
Strauss, who has three centuries in his last seven innings, including two in the Test series against the West Indies, reached 100 from 157 balls, with the last 38 runs coming off only 24 deliveries. He took a particular shine to his England team-mate, Samit Patel, against whose left-arm spin he hit 45 runs from 51 balls, including a six and four fours.
Despite 50 from Strauss, Middlesex were bowled out for 98 in the first innings before Nottinghamshire replied with 329 but they go into the final day with a lead of eight and eight wickets in hand.
Meanwhile, at the Rose Bowl, the young Yorkshire opener, Joe Root, confirmed the view that he is a Test player of the future with a maiden double century against Hampshire, finishing unbeaten on 222 when Yorkshire declared at 350 for 9. The 21-year-old, whose two previous centuries this season include and unbeaten 115 for England Lions against West Indies, hit 26 fours and three sixes.
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