James Taylor will forever treasure his privileged glimpse of Kevin Pietersen's world-class ability - even if he never bats alongside him again in Test cricket.
While Pietersen's wrangles with the England and Wales Cricket Board threaten a premature end to his international career, Headingley debutant Taylor is prizing the century stand they shared against South Africa. Taylor, a late replacement for Ravi Bopara in Leeds, put on 147 with Pietersen.
Asked which of Pietersen's England innings have impressed him most, Taylor said: "This one stood out. He just showed his array of shots. To do it, especially in that position in the game against some of the best bowlers in the world, just showed what a special player he is."
Pietersen has only three batsmen still above him, in English cricket history, for number of Test centuries scored.
"It was a special moment for Kev," said Taylor. "I was just lucky to be at the other end enjoying it with him. Luckily enough I saw a glimpse of what he can do.
"He showed what a special player he is against the best bowling attack in the world. He played a lot of shots most people can't play ... shots nobody else would play in Test match cricket. You only normally see it in one-day and Twenty20, but he's got the confidence to play them in Tests. It just shows what a quality player he is."
Taylor's challenge now, irrespective of Pietersen, is to try to build on his sound start - preferably at Lord's.
"I always tell myself I can do it at the highest level and I always back myself, whoever I'm playing against," said Taylor.
Taylor is the fifth man to bat at number six for England this year and is determined to make a success of it.
"I'm definitely confident. I believe I can do a job there," he said. "It's up to me to get picked again and show people what I can do. I believe I've got a lot to offer. I believe I can score runs at this level, so I hope I get another opportunity."
- James Taylor
- Kevin Pietersen