It seems bizarre, now. Pietersen is rightly lauded as one of the greatest, most innovative batsmen in world cricket, but Pietersen the bowler is only ever handed the ball when the match is meandering to a draw, or as a last throw of the dice when all the others have failed to prise out a wicket.
However, he spins the ball far more than most part-timers, and his 3/52 in the South Africa second innings threatened to bring England an unlikely victory.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was clever in realising that England were in danger of stealing the momentum, and declared the innings on 258-9. He set an England an intriguing target of 253 to win from 39 overs. It was always going to be a difficult ask, and England eventually dropped the anchor to secure the draw.
But Pietersen had ignited the game with his three wickets. The deliveries to get rid of Jacques Rudolph in both innings were from the top-drawer. There was also a lot of dross in there as well, with Jacques Kallis particularly enjoying the six he carted over the long-on boundary.
Pietersen does not work much on his bowling. He is keen to protect his body so that he can play on as long as possible, and an increase in his bowling duties does not fit in with the KP personal career plan. He is a contrast to fellow batsmen Jonathan Trott, who apparently revels in the chance to show off his medium pacers on the Test stage.
But Pietersen could really add something to this England team, especially if Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss repeat the experiment of dropping Graeme Swann on grounds deemed unhelpful to spinners.
Graham Hick bowled over 3,000 deliveries in Test cricket, and in tours of India often bowled for sessions at a time. He ended his career with 23 wickets and was a crucial option for England captains who asked him to bowl in 58 innings of the 65 Test matches he played.
Pietersen's retirement from international one-day cricket means that he has plenty of county cricket to play in the next few summers.
County cricket for a player of the class of Pietersen is a negligible challenge. He may need to set himself new challenges to keep his motivation as a cricketer, and it would not be the worst use of resources for the England management to ask him go away and work on his bowling on the county circuit.
STAT OF THE DAY: When the game was meandering to a draw, Stuart Broad ripped through the South Africa middle order and took 4-12 in 20 balls.
TWEET OF THE DAY: "Another window could get smashed after that!" Matt Prior is run out in England's run chase, and Cricinfo's Andrew McGlashan remembers last year when a changing ground window was smashed after Prior was run out by Ian Bell during the England- Sri Lanka Test match.
TALKING POINT: The psychological battle between the captains Graeme Smith and Andrew Strauss, after Smith set an England a target of 253 runs to win from 39 overs. England wanted to send a message to the South Africa that they would not be bullied, which is why Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior were promoted up the order. Chasing six-an-over in Test cricket on the fifth day is always going to be difficult for a batting side, but Strauss was determined to show Smith that England were up to the challenge.