Who’d have thunk it?

December 21, 2021

One of the great things about cricket is the fact that it is so unpredictable. Every day, the fan is faced with intriguing possibilities. What new way will the ICC find to screw up a tournament? How many inches will Stuart Broad have grown overnight? And whose turn is it to be captain of Pakistan this week?

Today’s surprise? Well, it wasn’t England’s mauling of Sri Lanka. Watching England at the moment is a bit like watching a drunk walking along a bridge parapet in the small hours of a Sunday morning – you know it is all going to end in a nasty squishy mess, but predicting the point at which the fall will come is somewhat trickier. And because so many people predicted that they would drop off the edge, they somehow clung on.

No, the surprising thing was how they did it, and particularly how one particular player did it. Today was the day that Kevin Pietersen turned into one of the elder statesmen of cricket (at least for the afternoon).

It started with the frowning and disgusted shake of the head as Tim Bresnan attempted to gift Sri Lanka a whole over of wides.

Then he came into bat right after Lasith Malinga had cleaned up Craig Kieswetter with a trademark yorker. The old KP would’ve swiped at the first ball, desperate to get off the mark. The new version calmly blocked another, less well directed, yorker and then bunted the next ball to mid-on for that duck-breaking single.

And so it continued. No rash shots, no hand-switching sweeps. In fact the Sri Lankans appeared perplexed by his habit of wandering down the pitch and nudging the ball for a single, rather than trying to batter it out of the ground over mid-wicket. And he certainly didn’t regard being a dozen runs from victory as an excuse to charge down the wicket and twat the ball straight up in the air, as his captain did.

Pietersen the Responsible. Who’d have thought it. Honestly, anyone would think he’d become a parent or something.