Australia's Marnus Labuschagne, right, appeals for the dismissal of Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Kamran Jebreili/AP

Love him or hate him, Kevin Pietersen is able to get up the spine of almost anyone with his cavalier sense of spirit and adventure.

An off-spinner who batted at No 9 for Natal B, Pietersen overhauled his cricket career by becoming a specialist batsman when moving to England, and he subsequently became captain of his adopted country.

But since he departed international cricket, he has maintained close ties with the country of his birth, and has even had a house built in the Kruger National Park.

Having been such an integral part of the Ashes series for many years would’ve hardened his attitude to the Australians too, and on Friday, he took the chance to rip into his old rival and now good friend Shane Warne.

With the Baggy Greens capitulating to a record 373-run defeat to Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, the top-scorer in their innings of 164 all out was a South African-born player, batting all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne, who made 43.

Labuschagne had a reasonable game in total in just his second Test match, scoring 25 and 43, and taking 3/45 and 2/74 with his right-arm leg-spin.

Having emigrated with his family from Klerksdorp to Brisbane at the age of 10, Labuschagne is now a true-blue Aussie, but that didn’t stop Pietersen from throwing some shade at Warne by comparing the great leg-spinner’s nation to England’s penchant for picking players with SA links over the years.

“Is a South African proving to be and could possibly become your grittiest batter, @ShaneWarne?! They helped England for years...!” Pietersen tweeted on Friday.

The 24-year-old Labuschagne is following in the footsteps of Kepler Wessels, who played 24 Tests for the Aussies.

Let’s see if there will be more SA-born players coming through to the Australian Test team in future…


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