Thorpe backs Pietersen to come good

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Graham Thorpe believes England star batsman Kevin Pietersen is on the brink of finding his best form after struggling so far in his native South Africa.

Updated: December 10, 2009 19:25 IST
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Graham Thorpe believes England star batsman Kevin Pietersen is on the brink of finding his best form after struggling so far in his native South Africa.

Pietersen made his name in world cricket five years ago by scoring three one-day centuries in his homeland.

However, he has found runs hard to come by since returning from four months on the sidelines with an Achilles injury and he has yet to make a fifty during England's ongoing tour of South Africa.

England will now head into the first of a four-Test series starting next week with Pietersen, dismissed for 25 in a warm-up match on Wednesday, struggling for runs.

But they won the Ashes without the 29-year-old, ruled out of this year's series with Australia after just two Tests, and former England batsman Thorpe believes it is just a matter of time before Pietersen, who averages nearly fifty in Test cricket, comes good again.

"Once he gets into an innings he'll be fine," said Thorpe," speaking at an npower urban cricket event at Lord's here on Wednesday.

"It could be in one of these warm-up games," added left-hander Thorpe, whose own Test career came to an end when he was dropped by England in 2005 in a move that allowed Pietersen to make his debut in the five-day format against Australia at Lord's.

"He only needs one score - a 50 or 60 with two or three hours at the crease just to really focus his mind again.

"That's all a person like him needs. He's a big match player with a lot of quality and you just feel that when he does get back he won't be lacking strength or desire against South Africa, that's for sure."

As was the case in 2004, Pietersen has been booed by some South African spectators during this tour.

But Thorpe said he had the strength of character to cope with the taunts while the arrival of former England captain Graham Gooch, one of the most prolific run-scorers of his generation, as the squad's batting coach would help iron out any technical issues.

"The booing is something he's used to," said Thorpe, who played in exactly 100 Tests. "It's the country of his birth so he'll look to impress and do well for England.

"Graham Gooch is out there working with them now. He can help them by focusing their minds on the mental side of the game and getting them in to score big runs."

Thorpe was far more concerned by whether England would be able to dismiss their opponents twice, something any side must do if it wants to win a Test match, especially against a South Africa side that boasts a powerful batting order.

England paceman James Anderson was ruled out Wednesday of a warm-up match against a South African Invitational XI with a knee injury and he has already had several pain-killing injections ahead of next week's first Test at Centurion.

Anderson was a key figure in England's recent 2-1 one-day series win over South Africa and Thorpe said: "Anderson's absence will be a big blow because you need the new ball swinging so England will have to work out which way they'll go, whether they have to go with (Graham) Onions or (Ryan) Sidebottom.

"The fear is that England will not be able to take 20 wickets and that's going to be England's hardest task," Thorpe added. "We look a little bit light there."

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