There is a new KP in town who is also South African. However, unlike Kevin Peterson, who represented England, Keegan Peterson represented Protea.
The game against India was only the second series for Peterson, who is no longer a 28-year-old spring chicken. His consistent presence on the domestic field over the years, where he worked hard to hone his skills, has paid off for the small hitters from Parr.
As a batsman, the compact Peterson is a rare gem in South Africa. In fact, Jacques Kallis, the legend who watched him grow up, predicted he would represent South Africa in the long term.
However, his start in Test cricket was shaky.
Peterson’s Test debut was against West Indies at Gros Isle last year, scoring 19, 7 and 18 in two Tests on the field.
South African selectors have confidence in him in the key No. 3 position. Although he looked happy with the crease, 15 and 17 in Centurion’s first Test against India did not reflect his talent.
Captain Dean Elgar stood beside him. “He’s worried about why he doesn’t change those starts. He’s been one of the best hitters on our Nets. We believe in his ability,” the captain said.
Then came the turnaround.
Peterson battled the demons in his heart, hitting a 62 on the seamed Rangers course with variable bounce in the first inning.
He looks compact in the crease, footwork, balance, timing and ability to put shots outside.
He batted on both sides – his square drive, screen drive and flick were impressive – and Peterson had “reached” Test cricket in this innings.
His father, Eric, was a decent cricketer and Peterson said his technical purity in a game that stemmed from solid defence came naturally to him.
Peterson’s 28 in the chase was an important effort for South Africa to win in the second Test.
However, Peterson retained his best form for the tiebreaker. His first inning 72 on a tricky pitch in Newlands was all about fluidity and balance on defense and offense. He coaxed the ball through the gap.
His 82 runs in a high-pressure chase in the second inning — his way of soaking up pressure with striking footwork — earned him Player of the Game and Player of the Series awards.
Peterson became the highest-scoring player on either side with 276 in a bowler-dominated series.
This KP is expected to have a long-term presence in South Africa’s top order.