As Kevin Pietersen was saying only the other day, it has been wonderful to watch England winning without him. The way he generously put it was: "I've absolutely loved watching them do their stuff. I think I got enough of the limelight in January. I've really enjoyed seeing them take it."
Of course, this only goes so far when it is considered that limelight might actually have been invented by Goldsworthy Gurney in 1829 with Pietersen in mind. No sooner had England's leading batsman paid his tributes than he returned to the side in the nick of time last night to ensure that they avoided embarrassment against Scotland.
The rest of England's top five failed in the warm-up match for the World Twenty20 and had Pietersen joined them the target of 137 might easily have been beyond them. He made an unbeaten 53 from 40 balls, finishing off the match with his second six, pulled over square leg.
England won by six wickets with six balls left, a country mile in this form of cricket. Pietersen showed no ill-effects from the Achilles tendon strain which has been irritating him since running up a hill on St Kitts in January and eventually caused him to miss the recent one-day series against West Indies.
At various points in the last year, Pietersen has been forced to play with a broken rib, fractured fingers, a sore back, not to mention bruised shoulders caused by having to carry the team on them. His calmness was essential last night because England were facing a tricky total on a used pitch which was slower than they might have liked.
Pietersen was accompanied in guiding England home by the newcomer Eoin Morgan, whose improvised scoop shots over both shoulders were breathtaking. Nor was he alone in demonstrating innovative skills.
That Scotland made only two runs off the final over (and only 25 from the final five overs) was because of some strikingly smart bowling by Stuart Broad. He bowled from wide of the crease round the wicket across the right-handed Neil McCallum, keeping his deliveries narrowly within the guideline for wides outside off stump. It is a ploy that needs precision but with respect to McCallum it might be successful against more accomplished batsmen.
To see England emerge with a brand new strategy was heartening, although it might have been nicked from the Indian Premier League. If it works that matters not since the IPL hijacked an entire form of the game invented in this country.
England still have some concerns about their fifth bowler and their ability against spin. Scotland were creditable and had the best bowler on show in Majid Haq, who took two wickets in two balls.
It was the first time the old sporting enemies had met in an international cricket match in England but not the first contest on a cricket field. In 1873 England beat Scotland 4-2 in the first international football match in England. It was played at The Oval.
Trent Bridge Scoreboard
Twenty20 World Cup warm-up match, England beat Scotland by 6 wickets
Scotland won toss
*G M Hamilton c L J Wright b A U Rashid 20
D F Watts b Mascarenhas 8
K J Coetzer c Pietersen b Collingwood 34
†C J O Smith c & b Collingwood 45
N F I McCallum run out 16
R R Watson not out 7
J H Stander not out 0
Extras (lb1 w5) 6
Total for 5 (20 overs) 136
Fall: 1-10 2-41 3-103 4-118 5-136
Did not bat: C M Wright, G D Drummond, C S MacLeod, R D Berrington.
Bowling: Mascarenhas 4-0-24-1, Sidebottom 4-0-19-0, Broad 4-0-23-0, Rashid 3-0-31-1, Pietersen 2-0-20-0, Collingwood 3-0-18-2
R S Bopara c Stander b Haq 32
L J Wright c Haq b Stander 19
K P Pietersen not out 53
O A Shah c MacLeod b Haq 0
*P D Collingwood c Watts b Drummond 9
E J G Morgan not out 23
Extras (b2 lb2 w1) 5
Total for 4 (19 overs) 141
Fall: 1-43 2-57 3-57 4-92
Did not bat: A D Mascarenhas, J S Foster, A U Rashid, S C J Broad,R J Sidebottom.
Bowling: MacLeod 4-0-34-0, Drummond 4-0-24-1, Stander 3-0-24-1, Wright 2-0-17-0, Haq 4-0-19-2, Watson 2-0-19-0
Umpires: NJ Llong (England) and AM Saheba (India)
34 days to go:
Kevin Pietersen was upset when he hit schoolboy Reece Topley with a drive as he batted in the nets yesterday. Rumours that he thought Reece was Australian are unconfirmed.