If Graham Napier had not hogged the headlines for hitting a world record equalling 16 sixes in his whirlwind 196 against Surrey at Whitgift School, one other incident during that action-packed day in Croydon might well have captured more media attention.
As it was, Matthew Walker’s dismissal of Kevin Pietersen for 58 got a little bit lost amid Napier’s power-hitting, and the superb hundred scored later in the same day by young Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown.
Pietersen, playing his first County Championship match since his hernia operation in March, was beginning to move into overdrive having reached a 48-ball half-century that included two sixes and six fours.
But he was then undone by Walker’s gentle medium-pace – even though Walker is only an occasional bowler who had only taken 25 previous wickets at 49.48 runs apiece during his 17-year first-class career.
“KP was probably licking his lips at the prospect of my bowling but he should know that you never play across the line to my skiddy seamers. He should know that by now!” laughed Walker.
“It was a nice wicket to get. I’ve had a few over the years but importantly it broke a century stand. I told one of the lads when I came on to bowl that this was a potential scalp for me but, deep down, you look at the quality of a batsman like Pietersen and think ‘I could go for a few here’.
“Having said that, as a batter you are used to dealing with orthodox bowling and want the ball coming on to the bat. The last person you want to face is probably someone like me. KP’s probably never faced anything quite like the slow seamy stuff I sent down to him. Something that’s a little bit skiddy and coming from someone who is 5ft 6in tall is probably not ideal!
“It was a nice wicket to have in the collection though, and I’ll be putting a bit of pressure on the skipper so that he gets me on a bit earlier in future.”
Walker is, of course, more renowned for his exploits with the bat although his rarely-sighted seamers were in evidence at his former Canterbury stomping ground last year where he took a career-best 3 for 35 for Essex against Kent, a haul that included the prolific Martin van Jaarsveld and at the time brought the following comment from James Foster, the Essex captain.
“We’ve been trying to work out for years how to get him out, and ‘Walks’ comes on and does it straight away,” said a bemused Foster.