Ian Baker - Pietersen must deliver for England again
07 Jul 2010 - 11:44:38
Maybe England are not as good as we thought they were. Australia showed there was still life in the old dog yet with comprehensive dead rubber wins at The Oval and Lord's, with Shaun Tait proving to be particularly effective.
If you look at reasons for England's crumbling top order at times, it would seem harsh to mention the name Kevin Pietersen. But stats do not lie.
Regarded as something of a talisman, Pietersen batted at six at Lord's after injuring his thigh. He needed Craig Kieswetter as a runner and promptly made a duck.
KP has now been ruled out/rested/dropped for the three ODIs with Bangladesh and rest is probably what he needs as other methods to re-establish his form have not proved to be successful.
Take away his exploits in the Caribbean when England won the World Twenty20 in May and it has been a miserable time for a player whose weaknesses seem to have been spotted and ruthlessly exposed in international cricket.
A deficiency against left-arm spin has been one of his obvious weaknesses, which despite hours in the nets he still appears not to have resolved. And I believe he is not so good against a fast swinging new ball bowled full from the likes of Tait and co.
Pietersen has not managed a Test century since 2008 but his ODI form is even more of a concern. KP has not even passed 50 in 50-over cricket in 2009 and 2010, perhaps proving that No.3 is not the ideal position for him in the side.
One of the reasons England won the World Twenty20 was down to the contribution of Pietersen. 73 not out against Pakistan and 53 against South Africa were vital contributions as were his scores of 40+ in two other games.
By contrast, Pietersen failed against Scotland in 50-over cricket and then managed a top score of just 33 in the five ODIs against Australia.
England must hope that Pietersen enjoys his two weeks rest, clears his injury and comes back fully charged.
After the sensational start to his career and consistent 20-over form, it's time for him to deliver again.
If he does, England could be celebrating a dual Ashes/World Cup win in the coming months. If he does not, it could well be the winter of discontent.