Kevin Pietersen's long-awaited and much-hyped return to international cricket degenerated into the ultimate damp squib as the second and last match in England's Twenty20 series against New Zealand was abandoned with only two balls bowled after a night of deeply frustrating drizzle.
The game started on time at 6.30pm but under brooding skies and, after hitting Mitchell McLeneghan's first ball for two, Michael Lumb edged the second to second slip where Brendon McCullum took a sharp catch. Luke Wright retained his place in the batting order at No3, with Pietersen due to come in at four – unusually low in the order in the shortest form of the game.
But before Wright could face a ball the umpires, Tim Robinson and Richard Illingworth, judged the rain was too heavy for play to continue. And that turned out to be that, although it was a while before the capacity crowd were put out of their misery. When the drizzle had slowed to little more than a spit, the teams agreed to play a six-overs-per-side match starting at 9:03pm.
Inevitably it was raining again by then, bringing the most underwhelming end to around five months of cricket between England and New Zealand in which this was the 17th fixture over three formats.
New Zealand won this series 1-0 to add to a 2-1 victory in the 50-over series early in the month. That allowed the Black Caps to scatter – some of them back home, and others to a variety of counties for the domestic T20 competition – having taken some tangible reward after England had won two series out of three on their tour of New Zealand in the spring and then followed a 0-0 draw in the Tests there with comprehensive victories at Lord's and Headingley.
The washout will have no serious cricketing implications for Pietersen's comeback – he has already answered any questions about his ability to regain form before the Ashes after a lengthy injury absence with a superb century for Surrey against Yorkshire at the weekend. He will now link up with England's Test squad in Chelmsford before their four-day match against Essex starting on Sunday.
This thoroughly forgettable night for most will nonetheless be memorable for James Tredwell, the low-profile Kent off-spinner whose remarkable rise continued when he was appointed to captain the team in the absence of Eoin Morgan.
Morgan's performance in Tuesday's defeat and in the Champions Trophy final had been impeded by a finger injury sustained in the semi- final victory over South Africa.
Morgan will have surgery which will rule him out of Middlesex's first few T20 fixtures over the next two weeks. But whatever happens in the rest of his career Tredwell can now recall having captained England, the first Kent player to do so since Chris Cowdrey in the disastrous home series against West Indies in 1988. Cowdrey's reign lasted a single match, a 10-wicket defeat at Headingley. Tredwell is thus far unbeaten in an England captaincy career lasting precisely two balls.
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