KP down, out and losing fans fast after falling for golden duck against Hampshire
21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012
A traumatic week for Kevin Pietersen took a turn for the worse on Sunday when he made a golden duck for Surrey in his first innings since the Headingley Test that brought about his downfall.
Dropped from the Test team after revelations he sent texts to South Africa players, Pietersen is awaiting a showdown this week with England captain Andrew Strauss. It will determine his international future.
But his mood was not helped when he was bowled first ball by Hampshire’s Liam Dawson in a CB40 match at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl, where he was booed on his way back to the pavilion by supporters of the team he once represented.
Bad week: Kevin Pietersen leaves the pitch after being bowled against Hampshire Royals at the Ageas Bowl
Timber: Pietersen (right) is bowled first ball by Hampshire's left-arm spinner Liam Dawson
It is Pietersen’s decision-making which has sucked him into a vortex of negativity and mistrust.
He could certainly have chosen better for his return to first-class cricket. Hampshire supporters have not forgiven him for leaving after complaining it was too far to drive from his Chelsea home. To top it all, a left-arm spinner was waiting for him.
Cue a chorus of boos as he strode out to the wicket with Surrey at 14 for one before being beaten by a ball which lifted and turned. Howls of derision followed as he returned to the pavilion. Chastised Certainly. Chastened History would suggest not.
‘That’s why you should have been playing for England,’ shouted one wag.
Tensions: Pietersen (left) is said to have insulted Andrew Strauss (right) in a series of texts
Hampshire folk are not prone to open revolt, but their celebrations of his wicket said everything about their lack of regard for a player whose five-year commitment to their county was half-hearted at best.
Having spent the first four overs of the match in jovial mood, padded up and leaning prominently, almost provocatively, against the railing on the away dressing room balcony while talking to his Surrey team-mates, Pietersen was not so brazen as to resume the pose following his two-minute excursion on to the pitch — all but 20 seconds of it walking to, then from, the wicket.
‘Let’s see you stand on the balcony now,’ shouted one local, capturing the mood of righteous indignation.
It is safe to assume the 32-year-old would not have drawn a warm welcome in these parts whenever he returned, but the volume of the abuse clearly owed much to his recent behaviour in the England fold. Mix in the delight that naturally accompanies the wicket of the opposition’s most dangerous batsman and a brief moment of near delirium swept the ground.
Carry on: England are trying to retain their status as the world's No 1 test team
Of course, if his England career does indeed prove to be over or at least interrupted for a reasonable length of time, Pietersen could find himself returning to his former Hampshire home rather more often than he would welcome. And, if Sunday’s performance is anything to go by, with a lot more time on his hands to send texts.
The latest setback followed more speculation about the texts he sent to South Africa players at Headingley. Some of it has been wide of the mark and Sportsmail understands Pietersen did not instruct the tourists’ bowlers to go round the wicket to Strauss.
Such advice would hardly have been necessary. South Africa’s quicks were using the ploy before the series started and Morne Morkel used it successfully on the first morning at The Kia Oval.
Rock-star lifestyle: Kevin Pietersen with his wife, the pop singer and model, Jessica Taylor
Instead, Pietersen is believed to have told South Africa’s fast bowlers to ‘nick him off’ — cricket terminology for caught behind.
Pietersen also complained in his texts about the atmosphere in the England dressing room. But, following Sportsmail’s revelation that Pietersen used a derogatory term about his captain, it is his description in the texts of Strauss as a ‘doos’ — an offensive Afrikaans term — that could prove a step too far as he seeks to negotiate a way back into international cricket.
Strauss said he felt ‘let down’ by Pietersen’s behaviour and England are still demanding to see the texts, described by Pietersen himself as ‘provocative’ — despite South Africa’s insistence they were ‘friendly banter’.
Jeered: Pietersen's dismissal was well received by the Hampshire crowd
England are furious at suggestions they have failed to manage their star batsman. The selectors name their squads on Tuesday for the limited-overs series against South Africa and next month’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, and there is no prospect of Pietersen being included.
That leaves the tour to India, starting at the end of October, as his earliest possible return to international cricket. But Pietersen must convince Strauss he is genuinely contrite and prepared to put the team first. It won’t be easy.