Pietersen faces sternest test on home turf

The question now, the only question possibly remaining about him, is when Kevin Pietersen will play Test cricket for England. It is undoubtedly a matter simply of time, as his breathtaking one-day performances in the past 12 days have confirmed.

In five innings before hostile crowds who consider his decision to leave South Africa an act of treason, he has carried the batting of his adopted country on his impressively broad shoulders. He has been deflected neither by the reaction of those who were once his compatriots, by having to overcome two broken bats in his last innings, nor by an unfeasibly garish hairstyle.

Were England to be playing a Test in a fortnight, the clamour for Pietersen's inclusion would be impossible to resist, even by the most conservative of selectors who might think that a flashy hairstyle is wearing Brylcreem. But the team are not on five-day duty again until May when they play Bangladesh.

After that come the Ashes. Nominally, Pietersen is behind two or three batsmen, but his entry to the scene has made his credentials obvious. He has not been fully accepted yet, but his style in this one-day series suggests it would not much matter if he had come from Mars to play for England.

Pietersen has scored 338 runs in five innings batting at No 5 in this series, including two centuries and a 50. His pièce de résistance came in East London on Wednesday night when he scored England's fastest one-day century in 69 balls.

His biggest examination so far may be today at Kingsmead when England play the sixth and penultimate match in the series. He was born and went to school a few miles away in Pietermaritzburg and if he betrayed anywhere it could be said to be this place.

"I don't know what sort of reception I'm going to get, I've had nasty receptions the past two weeks," he said. "I don't have any regrets at all, I'm fulfilling a dream to play cricket for England. I like a challenge and when people are booing me and going ballistic I just take it on the chin."

Five years ago, Pietersen played here against England for KwaZulu/Natal. He scored 61 not out from 57 balls batting at No 9 and took 4 for 114 with his off-spin, including the wickets of Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan.

"I also had a long chat with Nasser and he helped me to make contacts with England," he said. A year later, Pietersen, the son of a South African father and English mother, was in Nottingham.

Perversely, he made as many enemies as friends the other night with his 69-ball century. When he hit the six to bring up three figures his first reaction was to clench his fists in celebration. But he stopped as if remembering that personal glory was not much good if the team had lost. Pietersen will provoke mixed reactions throughout his career, but the early probability is that England will do better with him than without him.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015