Not everyone triumphs in adversity, but the former England captain is one player who can be relied upon to produce the goods when the going gets tough.
It is generally accepted that Kevin Pietersen will have no problem in returning to the ranks of the England team. This belief is based upon the fact that the former captain is well-suited to looking after his own game and ignoring the effects of the Peter Moores / captaincy fiasco. Cricket is the most individual of team sports and there is no one quite as individual-orientated as Pietersen.
The ousted skipper showed the necessary single-mindedness in his rapid ton against St Kitts XI to suggest a high volume of runs will be the proof of his rehabilitation. Pietersen claims to struggle with concentration against lesser attacks but focus will not be a problem in the Caribbean. The runs will flow faster than the drinks at the Barmy Army’s hotels.
It helps of course, that Pietersen is in decent nick. His majestic 144 in Mohali was his fifth ton in 10 Tests and so confidence, not usually an elusive run-scoring requirement for Pietersen, will not be in short supply, despite the recent rumours of team-mate back-stabbing.
The effect of confidence on run-scoring cannot be under-estimated. If the likes of Pietersen and 2008 top Test runscorer Graeme Smith can be backed to achieve in adversity, then it follows that less brash and forthright characters will struggle when the chips are down.
Two of the world’s in-form batsmen, JP Duminy and Tillakaratne Dilshan, fit into that category and probably started 2008 wondering if they had international futures.
Duminy, constantly in and out of South Africa’s One Day international middle order, endured a torrid series in England and appeared as far from a regular Test spot as he ever had been.
Dilshan, a more successful Sri Lankan version of Vikram Solanki, has failed to properly display his array batting, bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping skills. Moved up and down and in and out of the team, his confidence appeared at an all-time low during last year’s Indian Premier League.
However, both players enjoyed themselves against poor quality opposition towards the end of the year and went on to produce the best form of their careers against higher calibre bowling.
New-found confidence was the root cause of their respective renaissances and it is for this reason that Pietersen can be expected to produce his best in 2009. He has never lost his confidence, but he will now be more determined to utilise it. Watch out West Indies.
Written by Philip Oliver, a sports writer who blogs about cricket betting.