Yorkshire v Surrey: It may be tough being Pietersen but it is a joy to watch him play

“Off to do my ONLY interview of the summer. Its with @DGoughie for Talksport.. We talking - the Ashes, IPL, my injury etc! Don’t miss it later!!”

Kevin Pietersen gets ready to strike

So tweeted Kevin Pietersen on the day before this Championship match.

He may not be talking to the nation’s media, choosing to confine his thoughts to former team-mates and non-journalists such as Darren Gough, but perhaps that is no bad thing given his “it’s tough being me” speech when he was last at this ground in August last year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Pietersen is always at his best when he lets his bat do the talking, for it is one of the most eloquent instruments to have graced the game.

It is a bat that yesterday took Yorkshire to the tune of 177 not out as Surrey scored 353-7 declared in reply to the home side’s 433-9 declared, Yorkshire closing on 52-1.

More importantly for England, it is a bat clearly primed to take on Australia.

In his first innings for exactly 100 days after a knee injury, 
Pietersen appropriately notched a hundred – the 48th of his first-class career, and fifth in six appearances at Leeds.

It improved his record at his most successful English Test ground, one where he has now scored 940 runs at 104.44.

Truly, he is a quite remarkable batsman.

It may be tough being Kevin, but it is somewhat less taxing watching him play.

Having had to wait until 12.15pm on day three for his first innings since the second Test against New Zealand at Wellington in March, Pietersen, right from the moment he walked to the wicket wearing a jumper to protect himself from the unseasonable chill, was wonderfully easy on the eye.

After a trademark scampered single to get off the mark when he pushed Jack Brooks into the off-side and was nearly run out by Adil Rashid running in from point, he looked like a man on a collision course with a century.

Before long the feet were moving freely and the boundaries flowing furiously, warming the cockles of even the diehard home supporters as a bitter wind whipped across the ground.

After play began an hour late following morning rain, the trailers of the first two days continued for a further 15 minutes before the main feature began with Pietersen’s arrival.

Yorkshire, missing pace bowler Steve Patterson, who broke his left big toe on Saturday when he was struck while batting, an injury that will keep him out for a fortnight, expedited that arrival by taking two wickets in the first four overs after Surrey resumed on 53-1.

Ryan Sidebottom had nightwatchman Tim Linley caught at second slip by Adam Lyth, the fielder juggling the catch, before Brooks had Vikram Solanki superbly caught by Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire captain bravely clinging on when the batsman pulled violently to mid-on.

As Pietersen started to slip through the gears, Surrey lost their fourth wicket on 76 when Rory Burns, seeking to play a 
Pietersen-esque clip through the leg-side, was lbw to Sidebottom.

After laying the foundations before lunch, Pietersen built on them after the break.

The warning signs were there when he suddenly lifted Rashid for a straight six into the Rugby Stand, a stroke played with the effortless ease of a champion.

Pietersen, in fact, was particularly severe on his former England team-mate.

After going to 50 from 71 balls and surviving the loss of Zander de Bruyn, with whom he added 97 for the fifth wicket before de Bruyn slogged to substitute fielder James Wainman at mid-wicket, Pietersen pummelled Rashid for a pastime.

Two more straight sixes followed before another maximum was belted over mid-wicket, 
Pietersen scoring 73 runs off the 55 balls he faced from the leg-spinner all told, including seven sixes and four fours.

Rashid also dropped a difficult return when Pietersen had 78, the batsman racing on to his century as he brought up his second 50 from just 35 balls.

Shortly before tea, Pietersen swept the off-spin of Jack Leaning for another six, the 19-year-old batsman experiencing his first day of first-class cricket after entering the fray mid-match in place of the England-bound Gary Ballance.

Then, on the stroke of tea, came that rarity of rarities – a mistake from Pietersen and a dropped catch by Yorkshire wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd. Lyth got one to lick the outside edge and Hodd spilled Pietersen on 120 off the final ball before the break.

Four overs later, Steven Davies’s stylish innings of 44 ended when he picked out mid-off, ending a partnership with Pietersen of 118 in 23 overs.

After Pietersen went to his 150 from 176 balls, Gary Wilson skied Lyth to mid-off as Surrey slipped to 329-7.

Pietersen, on 159, was almost caught at mid-off by Wainman running round from mid-on off Sidebottom before having some fun at the expense of the former England pace bowler.

Pietersen struck 18 runs – including two more sixes – off an over from Sidebottom that proved to be last of the innings, Surrey declaring 80 behind after registering a fourth batting point.

Yorkshire lost Alex Lees padding up to Gary Keedy in the 21 overs before the close, but the day belonged to the princely Pietersen.