Pietersen ready to enter the Kingsmead bear pit
Published 01/12/2009 | 00:00
Andy Flower warns England must stay patient with Kevin Pietersen — even if the man himself finds it hard to do the same in his search for a major innings.
The Pietermaritzburg-born Pietersen will be back at what was once his home ground this week as England seek to convert a 2-1 lead into a notable one-day international series victory over South Africa.
The timing might have been better, though, for the 29-year-old is still only five matches into his England comeback after four months out with injury and he has managed just 52 runs from three attempts so far in this series.
England coach Flower insists he has no qualms about Pietersen's progress.
He advises it is unfair to expect too much too soon but nonetheless senses Friday's match at Kingsmead could be the ideal stage for England's inked-in ODI number three to re-announce himself.
“I wouldn't be too worried. I think he's going to take a little while to get back in form,” said Flower.
“Being out for four months — when he's used to playing all the time — I think is a challenge he's going to have to overcome.
“He's a high achiever, an outstanding sportsman — and he will be very impatient to get back into his dominant ways again.
“I think we should be patient with him, because it's not easy just to walk back in and dominate straight away.”
Flower is confident about the long-term prospects for a batsman who still generates a noisy and hostile response from cricket crowds in his native country — and he has a sneaking feeling that first big score may very well be imminent.
“He tends to want to do it his way,” he confirmed.
“That's part of his strength, his make-up — what makes him a different and very powerful player for us.
“He will score heavy runs on this tour, and maybe Friday is the day. It could be his day.”
Pietersen could manage only three runs on Sunday.
But England had South Africa beaten anyway at Port Elizabeth, going one up with only one match to play on the back of James Anderson's maiden five-wicket haul.