Babies, boos and belligerence: now Kevin Pietersen needs runs
IT'S all happening for Kevin Pietersen in South Africa. Boos, babies and a boisterous homecoming at Kingsmead on Friday. All he needs now is a few runs.
With his wife Jessica Taylor, the Libertx singer and Ice Dancer (with KP, right), three months pregnant, the baby will wait until Bangladesh next year. Good tour to miss that.
The boos? He can do nothing about that. The Pietermaritzburg-born batsman will get plenty of stick when the final one-day international kicks off in Durban, 56km from his birthplace, on Friday with England an unbeatable 2-1 up with one to play. What do you expect? He played in KwaZulu Natal for the first 19 years of his life. Ask Paul Ince what it was like going back to West Ham for God's sake!
And anyway, the well-stacked Jessica has joined up with the squad this week, so he'll have comfort at hand. Not that he doesn't thrive on the boos anyway.
It's the runs he has to sort out. Otherwise, the way Jonathan Trott is playing, Pietersen won't be the most important ex-South African in the Test series when it gets underway at Centurion on 16 December.
So far, since arriving late following his infection-ridden mid-Ashes Achilles surgery, KP has managed five innings. His scores so far: 29, four, four, 45 and three. That last knock, during England emphatic win at Port Elizabeth on Sunday, came after he was badly dropped off his first ball. Not too impressive.
Coach Andy Flower concedes: "He is impatient because he's a high achiever and an outstanding sportsman. Four months is a long time off when you're used to playing cricket all the time, so we have to be patient with him. I expected him to be a bit rusty.
"I am sure he will score heavy runs at some stage on this tour."
And the boos? Flower said: "He's used to that. I don't think it affects him. It's really disappointing. I didn't like hearing boos when Ricky Ponting walked out to bat in England in the summer, I don't like hearing boos when someone is taking a conversion in rugby and I think it's sad to hear the booing of a great cricketer walking out to compete for his country."
Can't see Kingsmead's notorious Castle Corner changing that on Friday. Especially if KP comes good for Jessica and delivers a quick 50 to clinch the series, which would mark South Africa's first home ODI defeat since 2002.