KP eyes Cook's recipe for success
Kevin Pietersen is confident he and others can take their lead from captain Alastair Cook’s scintillating form in the remainder of England’s one-day international series against Pakistan.
Pietersen shared two half-century stands with Cook as England went 2-0 up in Abu Dhabi, with just two more ODIs to play at Dubai - starting tomorrow.
However, Pietersen has been heartened by England taking control of the ODI rubber - following their unexpected 3-0 Test whitewash against Pakistan.
“It’s been a really good turnaround after the Test matches,” said Pietersen. “The team have done really well. Cook and Ravi (Bopara) have done a brilliant job, and [fast bowler] Steven Finn has been remarkable.
“Cooky’s such a good player, who is fulfilling his role in the team really, really well. You can’t complain when you get two hundreds in successive games.”
England’s initial practice plans were blown off course at the International Cricket Council’s Global Cricket Academy ground today, by what some described as Dubai’s worst sandstorm in at least six years.
But irrespective of available net time, Pietersen made it clear there are no doubts in the ranks that he and the rest of the batsmen are well capable of pulling their weight soon too.
It is part of team director Andy Flower’s teaching that even the best players come in and out of form, and the key is that England have the talent to be sure that enough batsmen and bowlers are making runs and taking wickets all the time - even when some of their team-mates are not.
“Andy’s a great believer, and the team realise, that not every single person in the team is always going to be on form - and a few of us haven’t been in the best of nick,” added Pietersen.
“But dovetailing is a word Andy has used a lot over the last few years, since he’s come into the job - and you need that. That’s why we’ve done so well.
“We were fortunate to have a lot of players in a lot of good form over the last 18 months, and then quite a few who have struggled on this trip.
"But the dovetailing in the one-day team has certainly been there, and it’s proven by the way we’ve played in the last couple of games.”
Pietersen admits he is facing the toughest challenge of his career as he attempts to establish himself as an ODI opener.
The right-hander, who made it clear today his return to the opening position is for keeps, believes the advent of the Decision Review System and near bounceless surfaces in the Middle East have made all batsmen hostages to fortune if ball hits pad rather than bat.
“In my career so far, this is the toughest I’ve ever found it,” he said. “Because of this new DRS system, there are definitely technical issues you have to look at in order to save yourself from batters not getting the benefit of the doubt any more.”
Asked if he has had to change his technique to try to cope, he replied: “Yes. But it’s not just me. Left-arm spinners now are gold dust.
“Umpires are giving a lot more lbws, and it just has to be clipping [the stumps, according to computer simulation] - like a couple of those games we played in - and you’re out. Two, three, four years ago you were never ever out.”
Pietersen is optimistic nonetheless that he can become a regular opening partner for Cook, home and abroad, on the way to the 2015 World Cup.
“We’ve talked it over. I’d like it to be permanent; [team director] Andy (Flower) wants it to be permanent; Cooky wants it to be permanent,” he added. “It’s something that we’re definitely looking to.”
Pietersen’s naturally aggressive style ought to be an especially good fit against the new white ball on true, slow pitches. But he is confident he can do the same job in England too.
“You look at it and just think ’why can’t I do it?’,” he continued. “I’ve batted (number) four in England; I’ve played in swinging conditions all around the world; I’ve been successful in Test match cricket against swinging balls.
“Why can’t I do it in the one-day format at the top of the order? It’s something that I’m looking forward to. It’s a lovely little challenge - a nice one.”
Pietersen is one of several England batsmen yet to show their true colours in this alien environment, but he insists his failures are not down to poor form.
“It’s been tough,” he said. “But I’m not bothered - because it’s not a case of me walking out to the middle and thinking ’where’s my next run coming from?’
“I actually feel in fantastic form. I’m playing fine. It’s just when you’re playing spin, and spin is bowled to you all day every single day, you just need to make one little mistake.
“You just need a little bit of luck to go your way, a dropped catch or an lbw decision that is referred. The wheel turns; in life, the wheel turns. I’ve been through this before, and I’m not bothered at all.”
All England’s ODI squad are fit for selection tomorrow, including Ravi Bopara - who had a back spasm while batting in Abu Dhabi two days ago - and Jos Buttler, following split webbing in his left hand.
Meanwhile, Ajmal Shahzad has joined the tourists as a net bowler for the remainder of their trip, but is not part of the official ODI or Twenty20 squads.