It’s been an eventful week for Kevin Pietersen, even by his standards.
South Africa’s most famous cricketing export was back in his homeland, playing in a cricket tournament that raised plenty of money for charities, playing with children, helping to dart rhino with the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy programme, signing with the Dolphins and managing to get himself c Borland b Symcox.
The latter misfortune happened during the Momentum Cricket Sixes, the wonderful annual event that sees corporates donating to charity to share the field with greats of the game like Pietersen, Mark Boucher, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Damien Martyn and Dale Steyn.
Kallis and Pat Symcox were the legends bought by the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy team for which I was privileged to play and so it was that Symcox was bowling to Pietersen, who had already hit me for a majestic straight six and a cheeky reverse-paddle four. Pietersen launched the off-spinner towards cow-corner, where Kallis ran round from wide long-on to catch the ball but then immediately tossed it to me running from deep midwicket! Whether it was out of sympathy or not, Kallis wouldn’t say, but I had dropped a catch off Symcox the previous delivery so the pressure was on. Fortunately it was so unexpected I didn’t have time to panic and I held the catch, the scorers later confirming that it had been given to me.
The wrath of Symcox, who is still famously competitive and batted beautifully himself, averted.
The Momentum Cricket Sixes are the brainchild of Smith, Boucher and Justin Kemp and lives up to its billing as the social cricket event of the year as a ton of sporting legends compete in the most convivial atmosphere. There were even rugby stars taking part as John Smit entered his Barney’s Army charitable side featuring Bob Skinstad, Butch James and Percy Montgomery, and rock stars Ard Matthews and Ross Learmonth from Prime Circle played for the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy team as well.
Apart from Boucher’s rhino charity, which is doing crucial anti-poaching work in creating a DNA database of all rhino in the country, the other main beneficiary of the event is the title sponsor’s Momentum2Excellence bursary initiative and one of their talented cricketers, Jared, played in Pietersen’s team, batted like a star and gave a delightful speech at the auction dinner.
If you believe the English, then Pietersen’s ego has the effect of a scud missile on a changeroom but there was no evidence of that as he relaxed and socialised amongst many former and current Proteas, with whom he has established close friendships. On his own accord, while he could have been chilling in the VIP bar, he spent an hour playing cricket with the little kids gathered around the field, an amazing gesture that will live long in the memory of those future cricketers.
Pietersen was not the most impressive bowler on show, however. That honour must go to Paul Harris.
The left-armer proved that, if spinners are the most valuable bowlers in 20-over cricket, then that must be four times as true in the five-over game. He attracted the highest price at auction – more than Pietersen or current Proteas like Steyn, David Miller and David Wiese – and he once again gave the ball plenty of air and enjoyed great success.
I didn’t think it was possible for Harro to bowl slower than he did last year, but he somehow found a way, as he always does!