Alviro Petersen out to impress

  • By: David Clough
  • Last Updated: July 18 2012, 15:56 BST

There does not appear to be anything especially glamorous about Alviro Petersen.

Alviro Petersen: Looking to make his mark

In fact, in the battle at the top of the world rankings, set to get under way between England and South Africa at The Oval on Thursday, the 31-year-old opener may be flying under the radar.

Petersen appears demonstrative in neither word nor deed. But there is enough on his CV to suggest a steely determination, sure to serve South Africa well.

The three Investec Tests between world number ones England and the only team who can topple them this summer have a high-profile and charismatic cast.

For England, South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen needs no introduction to even the most novice cricket supporter; for both teams, the prospect of the world's two best pace attacks - headlined by number one fast bowler Dale Steyn - feeds the imagination; and cussed touring captain Graeme Smith, one who has seen off opposite numbers Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan on his two tours of this country so far, can easily fill the Ricky Ponting role for an English audience.

Irrepressible off-spinner Graeme Swann and veteran Jacques Kallis, world class for more than a decade with bat and ball, are hardly supporting acts either.

In that company, after 13 Tests and with a worthy average approaching 40, Smith's opening partner Petersen does not jump off the page.

But there again, that may be the way he likes it.

In a series most are predicting will be decided by which of those two attacks gets the job done quickest, it seems someone, somewhere is going to hold them up longer than expected.

That is where an 'extra' like Petersen might just grab the limelight after all.

It is fair to say he has a little previous on that score - having upstaged some superstars when he became only the third South African to make a century on Test debut - against India at Eden Gardens, no less

Achievements like that do not come from anyone getting ahead of themselves.

Petersen's public utterances so far at the start of South Africa's tour are in keeping with that characterisation - although it transpires he is not averse to a little considered forward planning either.

"It is important you understand exactly what you want to achieve," he said, as he anticipated his return following a minor foot injury for the final warm-up match against Kent at Canterbury.

"More than a year ago, I knew I wanted to play against England in England and then Australia in the same year.

"My international career is obviously still developing and has a long way to go, I hope."

Petersen, formerly Glamorgan captain and earlier this summer at Essex, has demonstrated his resolve and his run-making in this country already.

It was the famously obdurate Neil McKenzie who thwarted England ambition in the first Test at Lord's four years ago, forcing an unlikely draw to preface South Africa's 2-1 series win.

Whether Petersen is cast in that mould remains to be seen - his jauntier international strike rates suggest otherwise - but much in his demeanour hints at a batsman who may thrive on staunch defiance of England's attack.

Petersen speaks with more vim about South Africa's collective qualities.

"We've done really well over the last two years. Guys have stepped up to the plate, and we've put in the performances.

"All our batters in the top six average 40 to 50 for this year - which is fantastic.

"We've worked hard to be where we are in the rankings. But it's important we take this challenge that England pose.

"They are strong at home. But having said that, South Africa have always played well in England.

"That's something we pride ourselves on."

Petersen already has a proud record against England, in fact, yet to be dismissed for under 51 against them after three successive one-day international half-centuries - albeit in defeat - in 2009.

In that same series his near namesake in opposition mustered 52 in total, from his three innings - fair warning perhaps for one and all not to obsess about the wrong 'Pietersen' this summer.