Certainty Falls

Slumps in form have been around for as long as people have been batting. Better players than Kevin Pietersen have endured longer spells in the batting doldrums and come back stronger.

Fundamentally I still believe that the old saying about form being temporary but class permanent applies, but it increasingly seems as though people are concerned about KP. Obviously the mainstream media are, as they love sudden and unexpected falls from grace (especially when they involve the sort of person he is perceived to be), but I get the feeling that an increasing number of those who once felt he could do no wrong - including, perhaps, himself - are starting to wonder what's happened.

A lot of people who you come across on the county circuit in England have never liked him. Too cocky, too unorthodox, too South African, too great a contrast with the default English setting of self-effacing underachievement to ever be truly embraced. Others, myself included, only saw a brilliant batsman, whose spikiness and unorthodoxy made him what he was. And we didn't make the qualification rules.

Now things seem different. All batsmen are diminished by lack of runs, but players like Pietersen, who exist in their own minds to innovate and dominate, are diminished more than most. Every time he gets out to a modest bowler (that is, to him, almost any bowler) you can almost hear him thinking 'This is wrong. This isn't what I do'. Now, though, it is.

Pietersen may have reached the point where his self-certainty, once so apparently impregnable and his strongest suit, has started to weaken. And that, for a player with his level of conceit, is a confusing and dangerous space to occupy.

In a series that may have been felt to lack sub-plots, the contest between Pietersen and the Bangladesh spinners will be compelling.

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