Andrew Strauss has backed misfiring Kevin Pietersen to shake off his recent run of bad form as England prepare to face Pakistan in a four-Test series ahead of the Ashes this winter. The England captain is unconcerned that Pietersen, who recently became a father for the first time, has failed to score more than 50 runs in his last 17 one-day internationals for his country. The South Africa-born batsman's last big one-day score was an unbeaten 111 against India in November 2008.
Strauss is fully confident that Pietersen will bounce back, starting against Pakistan. "Kevin has just turned 30 but he has got a lot of cricket left in him," Strauss said. "He has had a tough time, there is no doubt about that. "He is a high-quality cricketer and he will come back and play match-winning innings for us. "He has had a bit of a break and that has been well received. A new addition to the family changes your priorities a bit and you need to get your life in order. I think he will come out and play really well against Pakistan.
"Kevin wants to be a great cricketer and he knows the way to do that is by scoring runs consistently and putting in match-winning performances and I have no worries that he will." Strauss is backing him to return to form in their series against a Pakistan side which has already had to appoint a new captain following the retirement from the Test arena of Shahid Afridi after just one match at the helm.
"I was surprised, partly because it happened so suddenly and because it seems strange to be made captain and then to resign after one Test match," Strauss said. "But he has got his reasons for it and if he does not feel that he is worth his place in the side or he is not enjoying the format, then the worst thing you can do is continue to captain when your heart is not in it." * PA