Pietersen’s just happy to be back to his best

Kevin Pietersen was back to his best. Picture: Robin Jones
Kevin Pietersen was back to his best. Picture: Robin Jones
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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To see one old Hampshire boy thriving was ideal for the Rose Bowl punters, but two was more than most could have hoped for as Saturday proved to be another rain-affected day’s cricket.

Chris Tremlett had ended the Sri Lanka innings with six wickets to his name and Kevin Pietersen was the next former Rose Bowl man to stride on to his old stomping ground.

To put the pair in the same bracket is probably stretching it somewhat.

Tremlett is a born-and-bred Hampshire boy with a family cricketing connection to the county.

Pietersen only became officially English in 2004 and joined Hampshire the following year for a five-year stint.

Some Hampshire fans still have a rather sour taste over Pietersen’s exit last year – and his apparent reluctance to turn out for his county when he wasn’t on international duty.

But when he is on song, he is the most exciting batsman in the world and he got a rousing reception from those within the Rose Bowl.

He deserved it for the quality of his 85, too. The only sad note was he wasn’t the first man to score a Test century at the venue.

But despite missing out on that honour, he insisted he was not frustrated after playing some of the flamboyant strokes that only Pietersen can.

He said: ‘It was actually not frustrating at all.

‘To play the way I did gave me a lot of happiness.

‘If someone had said 85 to me in the morning and told me I would play the way I did, I would have settled for it.

‘If I keep playing that way, the hundreds will come and hopefully a lot of them.

‘I really, really enjoyed the way I played.’

Pietersen also believes the spotlight on his supposed weakness against left-arm spin had focused his mind.

He said: ‘I don’t have a problem at all.

‘We realise you guys (in the media) have a job to do and if I give you ammunition, you are going to fire the gun.

‘I’ve probably given you enough ammunition – they’ve got me out quite a few times.

‘It’s absolutely no drama to me.

‘What it has probably done is make me play a lot better than I would have.

‘I’ve worked that extra bit harder, thinking, “have I got a problem? I’ve never had a problem”.’

Kevin Pietersen is a one-off. Whether it’s on the pitch or in front of the guys looking to ‘fire the gun’.

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea for his aloof nature and a self-belief that can occasionally lean towards arrogance.

But what a player. It was just a shame he didn’t get the ton he deserved.