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.

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor