London: Former England cricket team coach Duncan Fletcher has said batsman Kevin Pietersen is at present struggling with his mental and technical approach, and this has contributed to his poor form over the past few months.
Recalling his association with the team, Fletcher said that when he first started working with England, it had a bad history of batting collapses.
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"Back then a lot of the older players seemed to have a defeatist attitude. As soon two quick wickets went down, some of them would lapse into a `here we go again" mentality`. But this is a young England team. They are not scarred like some players I used to work with. That makes it harder to diagnose what is going wrong," Fletcher writes in an article for The Guardian.
"Another key change I was able to make to guard against batting collapses was to strengthen the tail. But with Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad at numbers seven, eight and nine, England have an excellent lower-order. Even James Anderson has improved enough to be used as a night watchman," he adds.
"I think the problems are largely psychological rather than technical, because all these players have made good runs under pressure in the past. It has to be about the team mentality. You need a calm atmosphere in the dressing room. You cannot afford to let a negative mind-set take hold, or the batsmen waiting to go in will catch the jitters. The management need to ensure that when things go bad the batsmen have simple, realistic goals," Fletcher further said.
Suggesting remedies, he said that when a batting team is struggling, it is essential to break targets down.
"Think about scoring five runs, not 50. The batsmen need to concentrate on how many runs they need to make in the next half hour, not by the end of the day. That`s too far away. Look after the pennies, as the saying goes, and the pounds look after themselves," Fletcher writes.
He suggested that Kevin Pietersen`s form needs a lot of work, both technically and mentally, to get him back scoring big runs.
"I think he is lacking first-class match practice. He will be working hard in the nets, but he needs to be out in the middle of a match, working on the mental approach to building an innings over a longer period of time. He has to appreciate that he is there to face as many balls as he can. He can afford to wait for a loose delivery to come along," Fletcher said.
He also said that losing the third Test at The Oval was not necessarily a bad thing.
"It will kill off any complacency that had crept into the team. But the key issue now is how they respond at Lord`s," he concludes.