England v Pakistan, 1st npower Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day August 1, 2010

Strauss plays down Pietersen's poor form

Kevin Pietersen's ongoing struggle for form remains England's single biggest concern following a thumping 354-run victory over Pakistan at Trent Bridge. The match was wrapped up with five sessions to spare as James Anderson dismissed the visitors for 80 in their second innings, but having contributed scores of 9 and 22 to the contest, Pietersen has now gone 22 innings without a Test century, with the most recent of his 16 hundreds coming against West Indies at Trinidad in March 2009.

Pietersen has not been entirely devoid of form in that time. He made 99 against Bangladesh at Chittagong in March before claiming the Man of the Series award for his flamboyant performances in England's triumphant World Twenty20 campaign. But the consistent dominance that he showed against all opponents up to and including the time of his removal as England captain in early 2009 has deserted him, and shows no sign of returning in the immediate future.

England's captain, Andrew Strauss, repeated a familiar team refrain when he declared that Pietersen's determination to succeed was as absolute as ever, and while there was little to show for his contribution in the scorebook, Strauss singled out his second-innings effort of 22 as a vital factor in enabling England to pull away from Pakistan in the latter stages of the third day. Having come to the crease early following the loss of both openers, Pietersen added 48 for the third wicket with Jonathan Trott, before Kamran Akmal clung onto an outstanding one-handed catch to dismiss him via an inside-edge.

"KP is fine," Strauss said. "He wasn't able to make a telling contribution in this game, although he batted better in the second innings and made a very important contribution because both him and Trott had to dig deep. The contributions maybe don't look all that good in terms of the figures they finished up the game with, but the first 30 overs of every innings was very tough work for batting, and there were more contributions than just the guys who got the big runs."

All the same, Pietersen has had a variety of distractions in recent weeks - both on the home front, where he recently became a father for the first time, and perhaps more significantly, down at his county Hampshire, where he is now persona non grata after declaring his intention to seek a new base closer to his London home. As a consequence of that, he was recently snubbed for a CB40 fixture against Kent, after the ECB requested that he play to gain match practice ahead of the Test.

Strauss, however, was confident that that row had not impacted significantly on his cricket. "KP has always been very clear in his mind what he needs to do practice-wise, and that's not changed on the back of him not getting a county game with Hampshire," he said. "He's done a lot of work with Gooch, and the most important thing is he feels well prepared. Not playing in that game hasn't made him feel less prepared.

"We're all hopeful he does find a club for next season, because it's important for there to be that relationship between the counties and the England team, and that it's a healthy relationship. On the one hand, England players can go there to get form, on the other, those England players can pass on their experience to the younger guys in the county dressing room. That's how it works."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    It is amusing to contrast KP, who's form everyone is so worried about, and Mohammad Yousuf, who has been recalled to the Pakistan team as the potential saviour of their failing batting line up. Over past 12 months in Test Cricket KP averages 39.28 when Yousuf averages 34.00. Over the 24 months the stats are even more in KP's favour: 44.37 versus 36.72. If England's biggest headache is scoring more heavily than Pakistan's star performer maybe it bodes well England's continued domination!

  • vipin on August 2, 2010, 11:32 GMT

    KP is fantastic player, drop in form happen to even great players in history, ponting is feeling the taste nowt, sachin have a low period in between 2003-2006, KP has played some fantastic innings in his carrier, He is 30 years old now, and some player give their best after 30's.... keep faith in him.... England is regularly winning now a days, which is very rare to see, so no harm to keep KP in team, hope is wil get in form soon... Best of Luck

  • ian on August 2, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    There used to be a standard route to remedy when an established England batsman endured a protracted run of poor scores (and talking up a score of 22 demonstrates how desperate KP's form is, sorry, Strauss) - to go back to county cricket and rediscover confidence and form. This option is denied to Pietersen because he had arrogantly announced that he can do without Hampshire - only to discover that Hampshire can do without him! How this must have hurt his ego which inflates in inverse proportion to his nous (common sense). I really wonder whether KP is truly a team player. I wonder too, whether we have seen the last of the destructive, dominating world-class player he once was. England will go on picking him for the rest of this summer because their current faith is drawing on memory capital. An ultimatum is needed: do the business KP (choose your own route back, as you are undoubtedly your own boss) or miss the Ashes. Can England afford to carry this monster ego round Australia?

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    If KP is to be dropped where is a suitable replacement of his class ?

  • James on August 2, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    @ sameer kumar- i am australian and try to be as objective/un-biased as possible. i can see why international fans may not love ricky, he is not as likeable as say sachin, but to say he "is hardly a great player" really does destroy the credibility of what you say after that comment. how is it possible that the 2nd highest test-match run scorer in history is not great? the man has more centuries and runs than lara (i think at a higher average too). stupid comment i think sameer

  • waseem on August 2, 2010, 3:56 GMT

    First few balls of Kps inning describe the whole inning contribution of his.... Though he is mighty talented or would say GOD Gifted but He needs to sit and see what he is doing rong.... I believe, his earlier techniques and trigger movements (talking abt 2005) were the most comfortable for him...then he just changed himself...started to stay still on the crease with bat high up which keeps his weight right on backfoot... He must look into his past success to get the future success... TO summarize , I would say...........Let him notice "History Repeatrs itself"

  • Rajaram on August 2, 2010, 2:15 GMT

    Empty words from Andrew Stauss. England Selectors should bite the bullet - Kevin Pitersen should be dropped.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2010, 21:16 GMT

    Ponting is hardly a great player , this same pakistani seam attack exposed him horribly, but yes he is far far better than KP . there is only so many chances one can give a player , if he keeps getting limitless opportunities , he will just be blocking the chances of someone more seserving and in better form

  • Jose on August 1, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Every time Strauss/Andy Flower is saying the same about KP's form. KP is a good cricketer. But to become a great player like Punter or Sachin, he has to start performing on a consistent basis. He has to take his game to the next level. Sometimes he is not willing to adapt to different situations which was evident in last year's RSA tour.

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