Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pietersen Hoping Finals Day Will Be a Real Blast

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pietersen Hoping Finals Day Will Be a Real Blast

Article excerpt

Byline: Rory Dollard

SURREY'S Kevin Pietersen heads the cast list as four sides head to Edgbaston to contest Nat-West T20 Blast finals day.

For the ousted England batsman it represents a final chance to occupy centre stage in a season which has so far been something of a damp squib.

Having had his international career unceremoniously ended by the England and Wales Cricket Board earlier this year, Pietersen hoped eye-catching displays for the Brown Caps would keep him in the spotlight and make a mockery of that controversial decision.

Instead, talk of playing four-day cricket has evaporated and his shortform displays have been less than stellar with a top score of 39 in 11 T20 innings.

Pietersen has made a career of rising to the big occasions and, with a record crowd of 23,000 expected, he will have one final chance to grab the headlines.

Surrey face hosts Birmingham in the first semi-final, with Lancashire and Hampshire meeting in the second match of the day.

Although playing in front of a partisan Edgbaston crowd, Surrey coach Graham Ford feels his side, who boast the competition's top runscorer Jason Roy, are well primed for the occasion.

He said: "I'd like to think we have a little advantage there.

"Our lads have played in front of magnificent crowds at the Kia Oval with great atmospheres so playing in front of a big crowd on the big day should be a little easier on them.

"Some of the other sides maybe haven't had that same support and atmosphere we have."

Pietersen will be joined at Edgbaston by another former England captain, Lancashire all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

Flintoff made his professional comeback this season after four years of retirement but featured just twice before a calf injury laid him low.

He is therefore an outside bet to make the team, which should include Test stars Jos Buttler and James Anderson, but player-coach Glen Chapple is happy to have Flintoff's experience on hand.

He said|: "He has found his fitness late, so he will be coming to Edgbaston with us,.

"His injury was always going to be touch and go for finals day and that was the worry. …

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