England in Bangladesh 2009-10 March 7, 2010

Pietersen's hoodoo undermines impressive Tredwell


It was only polite to ask James Tredwell to elaborate on his most successful day as an England offspinner, as he scalped six Bangladeshi wickets to enhance his chances of playing in next week's first Test at Chittagong. But there was only one burning topic of conversation at the close of the first day's play at the Divisional Stadium - Kevin Pietersen's dreadful run of form, and the seemingly voodoo-like curse that has been inflicted on him by the Slow Left-Armers Union.

Pietersen's contribution to the contest lasted all of five balls in the closing moments of the day, but it was all that was needed to set tongues a-wagging once again. Mehrab Hossain Jr has claimed 45 wickets in 46 first-class games, and has a grand total of four Test-match victims to his name. But a solitary over was all he needed to bump Tredwell's unstinting efforts off tomorrow's front pages. Facing up to his fifth delivery, Pietersen propped forward uncertainly, and snicked a routine edge to the keeper.

And so he was gone for 2 from five balls, taking his tally in all matches on this tour to 49 runs from six innings - and in each of his last four outings, including all three ODIs, he has been scalped by the same style of bowler. In the first match he edged Shakib Al Hasan to slip; in the next two games he was trapped lbw by Abdur Razzak.

"He was a bit upset, he would have liked to get a score," Tredwell told reporters at the close of play. "But we all know what KP's like, he's a confident character, and I'm sure he'll come bouncing back. I'm sure Bangladesh will try to use [left-arm spin] to their advantage, but I'm sure he will come back with something else to throw at them."

Quite what Pietersen can come up with, however, is anyone's guess, because his problems against slow left-arm are starting to become an embarrassment. He'd had his moments all throughout his career, most notably at Edgbaston in August 2008, when his attempt to mow Paul Harris out of the ground ended up with him holing out to mid-on, and sent England toppling towards a series-conceding defeat.

But it turned from being an incidental issue to a real thorn in his ego during the tour of India in November 2008, when Yuvraj Singh bowled him through the gate in an otherwise unremarkable ODI defeat in Indore. One month later in the second Test at Chandigarh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni hauled Yuvraj into the attack at the very moment that Pietersen arrived at the crease. Though he escaped unscathed on that occasion, the message was clear - as Yuvraj's earlier "bunny-ears" gesture had already made plain.

Since then, his every failing against a left-armer has become a hot topic - and it is starting to make a visible dent in his statistics. Pietersen's average in all formats against his nemeses hovers uneasily in the early 30s, compared to a solid plus-40 showing against all other varieties of bowling. And from Yuvraj (who has dismissed him four times in ODIs, more than any other bowler) to Daniel Vettori, Sulieman Benn and Harris in Tests, and now to Mehrab Hossain Jr, SLAB is intent on putting him in the mortuary.

Come the Tests, Bangladesh are likely to have just the one such bowler to work on his weakness, but that man happens to be Shakib, the most fearless competitor in their line-up, and a man who will surely delight in the challenge. And of course, it is an added irony that England have not even got any left-arm bowlers of their own to enable Pietersen to hone his put-upon technique, with Monty Panesar overlooked in favour of Tredwell. Adil Rashid, who as a legspinner at least takes the ball away from bat, is not here either.

But none of that is Tredwell's immediate concern, of course. He has been selected on merit, and has done his utmost to make the most of his opportunity. "I'm certainly in contention [for a call-up]," he said. "I've only done the right thing. There's less and less lead-ups going into international matches, so to actually perform in one of them is a decent thing.

"I enjoy bowling with another offspinner," he added. "It might cause problems for us if the batsmen come up with similar gameplans, but they've got a lot of left-handers, so that will come into our reckoning, turning the ball away from the bat." As Pietersen will testify, such a skill really can get under a batsman's skin.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • C on March 8, 2010, 23:02 GMT

    KP's problem is that he has no respect at all for opposition bowlers. He treats them all with contempt. His view is that every ball should be hit to the boundary. In Test Crciket it just doesn't work that way. He cannot treat bowlers like Steyn, Johnson, Vettori, and Murali with distain. They will knock him over on a regular basis if he does not play each ball on its merit. Until his changes this attitude, his current struggles will continue.

    He is no doubt a great talent. However, he really does need to pul his head in agaianst good bowling.

  • Avery on March 8, 2010, 22:08 GMT

    Never has one player achieved so little and yet got so many column-inches. In other news: 25th ranked batsman not that good.

  • Vishnu Teja on March 8, 2010, 20:11 GMT

    I have always said KP is the most over hyped player in cricket. Inelegance personified. Except for swatting the ball over the midwicket like a fly he does not have another shot in his book. He will continue to struggle. Period

  • Craig on March 8, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Well he is South African after all and Saffa's simply cant play spin - jut ask JP Duminy...

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2010, 16:41 GMT

    KP will bounce back soon.. ! This guy is a real talent...

  • Gavin on March 8, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    @W350 - Yes you are correct, we do seem to be very harsh on players who are having a bad run of form. The best players come back even stronger after having worked hard on their weaknesses. If he can admit he has weakn esses, then I guess he will do OK. If his ego gets in the way then

    Where you are wrong tho ,W350 ,is that SA made a mistake to let him slip out of their hands. He was never in their hands. He was a 19 year old rubbish offspinner batting at 9 when he left SA. He would not have qualified to carry their drinks back then never mind hold a place in the team.

  • Harry on March 8, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    KP needs to toughen up and get his head down, too much looking at the camera! he should be scoring bags of runs in these type of tours!

  • Adam on March 8, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Well being an aussie i like nothing more than to see to poms having issues, however, no batsmen in the world is amazing against every form of bowling, KP just happens to have found his, every batsmen also has bad runs of form. look at Hayden he went a few months scoring nothing more than 30 but he bounced back because they kept hin out there in the middle. Same goes for KP keep him out there to find his own way around SLA bowlers. hopefully not before the ashes so we may employ one to make his tour hell on earth LOL

  • Venkat on March 7, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Guys, give KP a break. He is too good a talent to continue with this lean phase. Every batsman who had a long career go through these phases. Also, we need to take into consideration that he is back after his surgery and a long lay-off. Once he gets into the grove, he will start scoring like his before!!!

  • shahzy0 on March 7, 2010, 19:15 GMT

    kp is a person who gets problms frm a special type of bowlers. he was terrible angaist asif who used to mix up offcutters and outswingers and easily used to fell for him.anothr problm is of left arm spinners, gets confused angaist the ball which turns or helds its line............... pak should had gone wth fawad alam an left arm option angaist kp in U.A.E where asif wasnt present

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