Why did the Bears reject Pietersen? Chief Cricket Writer George Dobell asks the protagonists...
The place: Leamington Spa
The date: August 16-18, 2000.
Event: Warwickshire v Surrey in the Second XI Championship.
Scores: Surrey (238, Pietersen 16-3-60-1), Warwickshire (211, Pietersen 92), Surrey (293-8, Ratcliffe 77, Pietersen 4-0-11-1). Match drawn.
Context: Kevin Pietersen, playing club cricket for Cannock in the Birmingham League, was called into Warwickshire's second team for a trial. Despite top scoring, it was to be his only game for the club.
Jamie Fleet (Cannock team mate): "I wouldn't say he struck me as a world beater. He was clearly a good player and took his cricket very seriously, but most overseas players are like that.
"He was part of a good Cannock side. He scored 405 runs in 13 innings and took 16 wickets at 25 apiece in the Birmingham League. I think we recommended him for the Midland Cricket Conference side, but not to Warwickshire.
"He was recommended to us at Cannock by Doug Watson, the South African batsman we signed as our pro in the mid-90s. Nasser Hussain was keen to get him playing club cricket in Essex at the same time."
Steve Perryman (Warwickshire coach): "We were after an off-spinner really. We were looking at a long-term replacement for Neil Smith, who was coming towards the end of an excellent career. The way Kevin was sold to us, we were expecting a bowler who batted a bit."
JF: "He was always more of a batsman. He had just scored 50 (61 not out in 57 balls with four sixes) against England A (a side that included Andy Caddick, Alex Tudor, Andy Flintoff and Phil Tufnell) when we signed him.
Gareth Batty (Surrey's captain for that game): "It was the first time I had come across him. He didn't make much impression with the ball. But I remember him quite clearly with the bat."
SP: "He batted exactly the way he bats now. He put bat to ball and played very well. He was impressive."
GB: "The conditions were bowler friendly and Carl Greenidge bowled really well, and pretty quickly too. All their batsmen struggled. All except one."
Tony Frost (Warwickshire's keeper in the game): "It was the first time I had come across him. The thing I remember most was his confidence. He had a hell of a lot of belief in his own ability."
GB: "Carl dropped slightly short and KP hooked it miles over square leg. I mean it was a massive shot. It flew out of the ground, over some trees and knocked the tiles off the roof of a house. It made us all sit up. He played really well in difficult conditions. It was clear that he was one to watch."
TF: "He hit it hard and he hit it a long way. One six was massive. He batted very well. I can't remember a thing about his bowling though."
SP: "I wouldn't say we rejected him at all. We invited him to play another game for the seconds, but by then he was a long way down the road to signing with Notts. His agent basically said to us, 'Right, you either have to make him an offer now or he's going to sign for another county.' We thought about it, but weren't prepared to be rushed into a decision."
John Morris (former England and Derbyshire, Notts and Durham batsman; then KP's agent): "Warwickshire had first refusal over Kevin. That's a fact. I met with Dennis Amiss and Bob Woolmer and came away with the impression that they weren't interested in Kevin. Even before I was involved I believe television presenter Nick Owen suggested to Warwickshire that Kevin was worth a look."
Nick Owen (television presenter): "I saw him playing for Cannock in the Birmingham League. He hit 100 against my son's side, Harborne, and I remember thinking what an amazing player he was. I actually recommended him to Colin Wells at Derbyshire. They had a look at him but weren't interested. That's a shame, because he would have been great value at the time."
TF: "Not for a minute did I think he would go on to become the player he has. Nobody did. He's improved a hell of a lot."
SP: "When you see how it's worked out for him, it's fair to say he'd win a place in any team. He's a fine player. But we had several exciting young batsmen coming through - guys like Mark Wagh, Ian Bell and Jim Troughton - and had we signed Kevin, it might well have blocked their progress. Who knows?
"A bit later Jonathan Trott came along in similar circumstances. But we knew he was primarily a batsman and he forced his way onto the staff by scoring an unbeaten double century in his first second XI game."
JM: "Warwickshire are trying to cover themselves. They would, wouldn't they? They passed up the opportunity to sign a top player. But to be fair, if they were choosing between Pietersen and Bell, they made the right decision. Kevin's had five ducks this season and Bell has just hit his first Test century. You can't sign them all. Derbyshire were also offered a look, but after Kevin had seen Trent Bridge, that's where he wanted to play. He was keen to work with Clive Rice, too."
SP: "Neil Smith has been a hard guy to replace. I think in the end we signed Gavin Franklin that year. Looking at Pietersen's bowling, you couldn't really say that was a mistake. I'm not sure how seriously he takes his bowling now. He's had such success with the bat that he probably hasn't had to work on the bowling as much as he might have done."
JM: "I got the impression that it was because Neil Smith was at the club that they didn't want Kevin. Neil was an off-spinning all-rounder and so was Kevin. The club may have been looking at a long-term replacement for Smith, but I'm not sure he was thinking the same way."
SP: "Kevin was certainly a confident guy. He made his presence felt. But there were no problems in the dressing room. He was fine."
JF: "He was never a problem. He wanted to bowl more, but we had Laurie Potter in the side, and he bowled quite a few overs of left-arm spin. Kevin's bowling opportunities were a bit limited and there were a few conversations about that. But he didn't fall out with anybody. He keeps in touch with lads at the club and we're proud of the role we played in his development."
JM: "There's no animosity between me and Kevin. I was disappointed when he jumped ship - and the way he jumped ship - after I'd negotiated his first two contracts at Notts, but I guess that's the sort of character he is. But I don't think that his character had any bearing on Warwickshire's decision. He's a top player."
This article appears in the current issue of SPIN cricket magazine