So, farewell, Kevin Pietersen. For today is likely to have been his last first-class outing with no agreement in place for him to play any further part in Surrey’s Championship campaign. It was a subdued end to a cricketer celebrated for his flamboyant and exuberant style, as 96 overs that he had a largely non-existent impact on were played out to a draw.
His final hours in whites were spent with his feet up on the home dressing room balcony, watching young openers Rory Burns and Zafar Ansari patiently go about the third innings of the game. A match that had offered so much, pitting the second Division Two pacesetters together failed to live up to its billing, suffering from long rain-filled intervals in the first three days. It was a stark contrast to the balmy summer 10 years ago when Pietersen made his name with the master-blaster heroics that helped win the Ashes back.
There would be no replication of that occasion in this contest, a delightful, rising delivery accounting for Pietersen after only five balls on Day One; the conditions preventing him from another chance to sign off with the bat. Understudy Jason Roy – the middle order pocket-rocket that Pietersen has taken to championing on Twitter and recent receiver of an England limited-overs call-up – provided his best impression, hitting a boundary-packed 143 in the first innings.
Pietersen is set to make one final appearance, though, turning out for the T20 Blast fixture against Sussex at Arundel on Sunday 14 June. But director of cricket Alec Stewart isn’t completely ruling out another return to county for the man who averages 93 in 13 first-class matches for Surrey .
Stewart said: “Once he comes back [from the Caribbean Premier League], we will have more discussions. He won’t play at Leicester. I was surprised he played in this game because we’d spoken about what his England opportunities were.
“What I’m saying is ‘it’s not the end’. I’m not saying ‘that’s it, the door’s shut’. It’s always open here for him.
“We didn’t expect to see him again, but he wanted to play this game.
Ashley Giles the Lancashire coach, former England team-mate, and the man who dubbed Pietersen a ‘million dollar asset’ only last year also paid tribute: “I’ve got very fond memories of playing with Kev and probably here the most. That last day of the Ashes in 2005 we batted together for about three hours. Memories don’t get any better than that.
“I had the best seat in the house for one of the best innings you’ll see in Ashes cricket.
“There’s an element of sadness if he doesn’t play first-class cricket again because he is a special player.”
Burns and Ansari ensured the points were split, the pair unmoved for all Lancashire’s best efforts. The former brought up his first century of the season nudging a single to leg in a chanceless display that should buoy the 24-year-old for future endeavours following a tricky start. While the latter made an unbeaten 66, his highest Championship score of 2015, reaching his half-century in a stout 145 balls.
A draw was never in doubt after Paul Horton’s tail end saw themselves through to maximum batting points in the morning session, with hands shook at 16:50. Tom Bailey and Kyle Jarvis carried on where they left off the night before, scything Surrey’s pace bowlers before an audacious step down the wicket to Gareth Batty accounted for Bailey, as Ben Foakes whipped off his bails. That gave Simon Kerrigan an opportunity to get retribution for his shellacking around the ground the previous day, dispatching Ansari for back-to-back sixes. Jarvis was the last wicket of the match to fall clipping a wide Stuart Meaker delivery behind; but it did not matter by then, as they retained top spot with a lead of 31 points over their nearest rivals.