Pietersen seeks home comfort for inspiration

England hope family and familiar environment will help batsman find form

When Kevin Pietersen arrived in Durban yesterday it was not quite the return of the conquering hero. It has become easy lately, maybe fashionable, to overlook his status as England's best batsman.

A long absence from the side, during which they won the Ashes and reached the Champions Trophy semi-finals, has been followed by a comeback which, thus far, has been replete with failure. While Pietersen is struggling, there is a new kid on the block, Jonathan Trott, another batsman of South African origins, who cannot stop scoring runs.

It is unfamiliar territory for Pietersen. Nobody is saying that he is not the player he was, but nor is he the player he should be. Perhaps a dose of the familiar air in KwaZulu Natal where he spent the first 19 years of his life and the reunion with his wife, Jessica, who joined him from England yesterday, will provide a dual tonic.

"I thought he might be a little rusty," said England coach, Andy Flower, unperturbed by Pietersen's lack of runs. "Four months is a long time off when you're used to playing cricket all the time, so we have to be patient with him. He is impatient because he's a high achiever and an outstanding sportsman. I am sure he will score heavy runs at some stage on this tour."

Pietersen's scores in his five innings since returning, all in limited-overs matches, have been 29, 4, 4, 45 and 3. He has chosen all manner of ways to get out, culminating in a tame clip to midwicket as England won by seven wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the one-day series on Sunday in Port Elizabeth.

Nor has his passage been eased by the response of the crowds. Although, as Flower said, their treatment of Pietersen has had an element of hissing the pantomime villain, each of his walks to the crease has been accompanied by boos. In Port Elizabeth it was particularly vitriolic.

"I think he is used to that sort of reaction and I don't think it affects him," Flower said. "It's really disappointing. I didn't like hearing boos when Ricky Ponting walked out to bat in England in the summer, I don't like hearing boos when someone is taking a conversion in rugby and I think it's sad to hear the booing of a great cricketer walking out to compete for his country."

The odd rumour has surfaced that Pietersen is still feeling the effects of the Achilles injury which forced him to withdraw from the Ashes after two Test matches and entailed surgery.

His return was severely delayed when the wound became infected. But he is running with freedom and no apparent discomfort and Flower said he was working as hard as anybody on tour.

England, however, are past masters at concealing the extent of players' injuries and the concern about them. Flower revealed yesterday that although the fast bowler Jimmy Anderson's right knee is now rapidly recovering (as demonstrated by his 5 for 23 on Sunday) there had been fears 10 days ago that he might have to be withdrawn completely from the series.

If the combination of KwaZulu Natal and Mrs Pietersen do not do the trick for Pietersen, then maybe the impending arrival of Graham Gooch as England's part-time specialist batting coach will help. Pietersen, a perfectionist, could well respond to the advice of the great former England batsman.

Flower said: "I have got the utmost respect for Graham Gooch. I find it hard in my new position to give the time that's needed to the batsmen. I need some help in that regard and I couldn't ask for better help than Graham."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn