Friday, 13 July 2012

Pietersen masterclass floors Lancashire

Surrey wrested control on their latest Championship match at Guildford back from their Northern opposition today thanks to a stunning exhibition of cricket from Kevin Pietersen. They closed the day just 55 runs behind on 430-5.

The England batsman, playing perhaps his last championship game of the season, clobbered his way to 234 off just 190 balls. With 30 fours and 8 sixes, an impressive 72% of his runs came in boundaries. Lancashire's left arm spinner Simon Kerrigan, a talented young bowler with 92 first class wickets at 27 apiece under his belt, was dealt with particularly harshly. From the 63 balls he bowled to Pietersen, KP swatted 115 runs. In fact of the Lancashire bowlers only Glen Chapple was able to exert anything resembling control over Pietersen.

It was an innings out of the top drawer, a knock that few cricketers anywhere in the world could play. He went to lunch on four from six balls, and in the 19th over he was on 8 from 12, but that was the last time his strike rate dipped below 100. He thrashed 106 runs in the afternoon session and 124 more in the evening. He might just have half an eye on bettering his current first class best, a 254 not out he scored for Nottinghamshire.

KP's innings might have stolen the show, but of equal importance in a wider context was Zander de Bruyn's 94. Although he fell short of his first hundred of the year, it hopefully signals a return to something like the magnificent form he showed in 2011. He struggled to get strike and turn his score over after lunch, but as tea approached he seized the initiative, only to get out just before the break. He will be a key player as the Championship reaches its climax. 

There was a period about an hour after the lunch break where the pitch began to misbehave a touch, the odd one bouncing sharply off a good length, others scuttling through at shin-height, but Pietersen and de Bruyn rode it out well. All told Surrey scored 188 runs between lunch and tea for the loss of just one wicket.

The other innings of the day pale into if not insignificance, then certainly less significance. Jason Roy was a touch more reserved than usual in making 38 off 51 balls. Steven Davies played second fiddle (who didn't?) to KP in scoring 22 back in the middle order. Chris Adams made another left-field call in asking Zafar Ansari to open with Rory Burns. Burns, in a not unfamiliar role that he has fulfilled at lower levels, shouldered arms to the first ball of the innings from Chapple and was comprehensively bowled. Ansari though was unruffled, as we have come to expect from him. He may have only scored 21 but such is his cool demeanour, not to mention talent, that I think he most certainly has a place in Surrey's future top order.

Worryingly though it did continue Adams' merry go round openers policy. That is the seventh opening pair he's tried in ten first class matches this year. Presumably this will become eight when Harinath is fit again. My point about a settled batting order from earlier in the season may have been torpedoed by events outside of anyone's control, but the openers nonetheless remain a real concern.

Earlier in the day Lancashire chose not to declare overnight, batting on for half an hour or so this morning, and managed to do some damage in that time. 60 runs came off the nine overs they batted for this morning with yesterday's centurion Croft scoring 50 of them, 37 of which came in boundaries. With 485 runs on the board Lancashire held all the cards. Now Surrey are in the ascendancy and though anything other than a draw is most unlikely now, remarkably Surrey look the only side who could force anything.

I would expect Pietersen will be given license to compile as high a score as possible tomorrow morning and Surrey will look to assess the situation once his innings is over. Clearly the pitch still poses little in the way of a challenge to the batsmen, and again the weather may disrupt matters, but today will go down as one of Surrey's better with the bat in 2012.


miltonkeynesman said...

Fair play to the Man, his innings is being reported as one of the best in recent Championship history and perhaps he did feel he owed Surrey one. Whilst he didnt get too many runs in the Twenty 20 his contribution in the field made you think he appreciated the situation the County was in and today was one where his undoubted ability was demonstrated. The Guildford public wont forget it quickly.

He did rather better than me. Every time I tuned into Churchy I seemed to hear a wicket fall. However by keeping tuned in the various stands developed.

If it is wet overnight and a short day tomorow, there may be some merit in declaring to stop Lancs getting a further bonus point. Cant see us losing from here, but the rest of the season looks a challenge. Here's hoping that Durham and Worcs continue to perform poorly. Maybe we can find a slot for four full days and a pitch to encourage our spinners.


GreenJJ said...

MKM - all the reports seem to indicate it was something extraordinary. He's quite the special player. He's really gone up in my estimation no end these last couple of weeks. Yes he's brash, yes he's annoying sometimes, but he's awesome, a talent like no other.

Fortunately Durham do still look poor and where before I was sure they'd turn it round now I'm not so sure. Worcs are a dogged, dangerous side though. I agree the rest of the season will be tough, especially because I don't think we've got much home cricket left!