Sri Lanka in England 2006 May 31, 2006

Pietersen has a plan for every bowler - Fletcher

Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen steps down the track to slap a boundary off Muralitharan © Getty Images

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, complimented Kevin Pietersen's approach to batting following his two centuries in the Tests against Sri Lanka. Fletcher described him as a thinking cricketer with a solid gameplan for every bowler, and not a slogger trying to destroy attacks without any strategy.

Pietersen was the star performer in the second Test at Edgbaston, with his 142 in the first innings constituting nearly 50% of his team's total. He had an enthralling duel with Muttiah Muralitharan, stepping down the track regularly while the rest of the batsmen failed to get past 30. Pietersen braved a painful blow to the stomach by Lasith Malinga, the fast bowler, but continued batting in the same vein, which won the praise of his captain, Andrew Flintoff.

"He doesn't go out there and just play by instinct," Fletcher told reporters. "Some shots maybe, but generally he's got a good plan of how he's going to play every bowler. He really thinks his game out and added to that he's got some real talent."

Pietersen, originally considered a one-day specialist, announced his arrival with a bang in England's tour of South Africa in 2005, scoring three centuries in the ODI series. Opinions were divided about his place in the Test side, but all doubts were put to rest in first Test of the 2005 Ashes series at Lord's, as Pietersen scored two half-centuries and took on Shane Warne while the rest succumbed. His 158 at The Oval helped England save the Test and win the Ashes. In 13 Tests so far, his average stands at 50.12, with a healthy strike rate of nearly 71. He scored 158 against Sri Lanka at Lord's in the first Test recently, making it three successive tons on England soil, and a century in the third at Trent Bridge will make him the first England player in history to achieve the feat of scoring four centuries in successive home Tests.

"He's new to Test cricket and he's done very, very well," Fletcher added. "He is exciting and I find him a very clever cricketer. People think he just goes out there and just plays the game, but he really thinks what he's going to do. I just think he's a very exciting player".