T20 Blast: Kevin Pietersen upstaged as Jason Roy calls the shots

Former England batsman fails again as Warwickshire see off Surrey in T20 Blast Finals Day despite a brilliant 58 from the young pretender

Edgbaston

Once he was a player who would have bestrode an occasion such as this, doubting not for a moment his status as a colossus of cricket, and more often than not have delivered something fittingly spectacular. Those days have begun to feel lately as though they belong to the past and you wonder now if they will remain there.

Kevin Pietersen, formerly of England, now a Twenty20 specialist, marched to the wicket in the eighth over of Surrey’s semi-final innings against Warwickshire in circumstances as favourable as he could have imagined.

Jason Roy, the rising star in whose shadow he has spent Surrey’s entire Twenty20 campaign, was just out, having added another brilliant performance to a season littered with them – one that had brought him 58 runs off only 25 balls. Surrey, chasing a tough but now seemingly gettable target of 195, were well placed on 89 for one.

Pietersen had not scored more than 39 in any of his 11 NatWest Blast innings for Surrey, compared with Roy’s nine half-centuries in 15 innings. Yet on his most high-profile appearance in England since he played his last Test match here he had been given an opportunity to upstage the young pretender by reminding a sell-out crowd that his sublime, unique talent was still intact.

A push into the off side off Jeetan Patel, Warwickshire’s off-spinner, gets him off the mark at the first time of asking but after just 16 balls it is all over, undone by Ateeq Javid, another off-spinner whose flat trajectory and extra pace has been usefully effective in this format, who bowls a full, straight ball that Pietersen drives firmly in the air but too close to the bowler, who grabs at it with both hands to his right and holds on. Pietersen trudges off the field after Surrey's defeat Pietersen trudges off the field after Surrey's defeat

Pietersen made 13, six of which had accrued to him only because William Porterfield, fielding on the long-on boundary to Patel, failed to hang on to an earlier chance, the ball dropping out of his grasp beyond the rope.

Back on the bench, where Roy already had a microphone under his nose as he described the 10 fours and two sixes that had given his side such a promising platform, Pietersen took his seat at the opposite end, reflecting an another poor day in what has been a miserable year.

His T20 stint with Surrey has yielded 225 runs at an average of 22.50. He says he wants to play Championship cricket before this season is out but Surrey, chasing promotion from Division Two, might feel that they can manage without him.

There was no happy ending for Roy. Surrey fell 16 runs short of Warwickshire’s total, built around a brilliant 81 from the Irishman Porterfield, after England’s Ian Bell had struck 38 from 17 balls.

Roy’s batting is blessed with power and finesse and while his record 677 tournament runs – overtaking the 668 made by Jimmy Adams of Hampshire in 2010 – will have felt like small consolation, at 24 years old, the South African-born right-hander  appears to have the world at his feet. On this form, selection for the one-off Twenty20 international against India next month looks a surefire certainty.

“I’ve said it plenty of times before, there’s no better player at the  moment in this form,” his T20 captain, Gary Wilson, said. “But he has done it in all forms of cricket this year and I’m sure he’ll get his England chance soon.”

At the peak of his onslaught yesterday, Roy hit 26 in a single over off the former Surrey and England all-rounder Rikki Clarke, with five fours and a six, and had he not been out, caught off a top-edged slog-sweep off Patel’s bowling, Surrey might well have stayed in Birmingham for a few more hours.

“I don’t know about Kevin Pietersen being the key wicket for us,” Varun Chopra, the Warwickshire skipper, commented. “I think that Roy was probably the more important one, the way he was going.”

Roy, who made a T20 hundred on only his third appearance in 2010, already has more fifties – 15 to 14 –  than Pietersen in the shortest format from 29 fewer innings.

He has shown himself to have strength of character, too. Badly hit by the death of his Surrey team-mate, Tom Maynard, in 2012, Roy’s form dipped so alarmingly in four-day cricket last year that he was dropped.  This year, by contrast, he tops Surrey’s aggregates and averages in Championship games with 839 runs at 52.43, easily his best return so far.

He gives some of the credit for that to Pietersen, as it happens, having bent his ear as well as those of Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting among the transient superstars in the nets at The Oval in recent times.

Pietersen, meanwhile, has reached a point perhaps when a re-evaluation of priorities is required. Having admitted in a recent interview that playing T20 cricket alone meant he found it hard to find any rhythm in his batting, he passed up the opportunity to play a 50-over match for Surrey last week in preparation for finals day after a brief and unsuccessful stint in the Caribbean Premier League in favour of a family holiday in America.

There, he went swimming with sharks off Miami and alligator spotting in the Everglades.

  • 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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss