It’s almost here. The KP show is coming to town – first stop Cardiff.
Kevin Pietersen’s return to county cricket begins with Surrey’s opening game of the LV County Championship against Glamorgan and the Swalec Stadium today.
Whilst his county are completely focussed on promotion back to Division One, the juicy side story is Pietersen’s bid for a dramatic return to the England team ahead of the home Ashes series this summer.
But as all eyes turn to the veteran batsman, his teammates insist he is not an unwelcome distraction – far from it.
“Since he’s been back he’s been back he has been nothing but magnificent around the group,” said new club captain Gareth Batty.
“Kevin is the hardest working cricketer I’ve ever seen. He hits millions and millions of balls and is as fit as a butcher’s dog.
“He’s buying into everything we are trying to achieve as a group and with that if he can sprinkle a bit of magic I would welcome that.
“There will be times when obviously the attractions that come with Kevin can be a distraction. But I am captain and we have managers and coaches – it’s our job to manage and make sure that doesn’t become an issue.”
Surrey openers Zafar Ansari and Rory Burns also agreed that KP’s return will benefit the side.
“There is a very good chance he will score us a lot of runs and taking some of that media attention away from other people is quite nice,” said Ansari.
“It is good sometimes not to be scrutinised to the same extend. As long as he is happy playing for us and enjoying it I think it will be beneficial.”
“Although Kev’s focus may be in England it is also heavily on Surrey and what he brings to our side,” added Burns.
“He is very good around the youngsters, he always has been good around our group – he’s brilliant for us.”
One of the youngsters Burns refers to is 22-year-old Matt Dunn who had a breakthrough season at the Kia Oval last year taking 47 wickets in the County Championship alone.
“We’ve had the pleasure of playing with Kev for a couple of years now,” said Dunn.
“Every time he’s come in he’s performed and been really good with the younger batters and bowlers.
“He’s been at the top of the game for a long time now, he’s got a lot of experience and he’s always been great with us. He joins in with the banter and it’s great to have him around.”
Both Pietersen and new overseas signing Kumar Sangakkara are both in Surrey’s 13-man squad to face Glamorgan, starting this morning at 11am.