06.08.2008 – Graham Croker

When Sydney University Cricket Club broke an 89-year drought to win the 2002-03 Sydney grade premiership, one of the first congratulatory calls to come through – from England – was from a certain Kevin Pietersen.

The same Kevin Pietersen who helped Sydney University reach the final by scoring scored 765 runs during the season at an average of 84, but missed the title match when called back to play country cricket for Nottinghamshire.

The same Kevin Pietersen who was this week named Test and one-day captain of England following the resignation of Michael Vaughan after a series loss to South Africa.

The new England captain was recommended to Sydney University for the 2002-03 season by former Test leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, who had watched him play country cricket.

And he delivered in spades. During a golden run in the middle of the season he scored 600 runs off 550 balls. That included a partnership with No.9 Pete Saunders in which Pietersen cracked 141 while Saunders scored one.

“He believes attack is the best form of defence – he showed that on many occasions during his season with us,” Shane Stanton, the captain at the time, said. “He got us home a few times. He’s welcome back any time.”

Former Test all-rounder Greg Matthews, who also linked up with the club that season, predicted Pietersen would score 8000 Test runs. Matthews might be right; the aggressive right-hand batsman has now scored 3777 from 42 Tests, averaging 50.36.

Pietersen will make his Test captaincy debut tomorrow night when England meets South Africa at the Oval in the final Test of the series.