Cricket Psychology – The Mystery Of Kevin Pietersen

Its the penultimate round of County Championship matches. Glamorgan are on the verge of promotion back to Division One. A win at Surrey may secure their elevation.

But in the Surrey ranks, making his debut, is Kevin Pietersen. Dropped from the England 20/20 squad, Pietersen has been asked to return to the county ranks to discover his form.

But how has it come to this?

Pietersen is a hugely talented and gifted individual. He is capable of taking any bowling attack apart, at any level. But with huge talent, comes arrogance. A total and utter belief in ones own abilities. Bulletproof. An immunity against doubts. At least to the external observer.

But inwardly, a different dialogue may ensue. When you are as good as Kevin Pietersen is, you have a reputation to defend. And it is that reputation that can lead down pathways of self-doubt.

Your reputation creates a self-view. In other words how you think about yourself. If your reputation is to be a dominant player, then when you are not dominating opposition attacks, a contradiction begins.

The contradiction of what you feel you should be doing. And what you are doing. In the gap between ‘the should’ and ‘the are’, an internal struggle occurs.

Because of the strength of the ego, it becomes hard to think clearly about how to correct the problems. You know you should be dominating opposition attacks, but dont know why your not. It doesnt make sense.

When you are not dominating, then the player such as KP loses a sense of personal power and potency. His domination of the opposition gives him his strength, and sense of immunity from doubts.

Without it, he is just another player. Vulnerable. Not feared by the bowlers.

Thats why he has returned to the county game. Not just to score runs. But to get the feeling back of being a dominant player. That no one can get me out. That every ball is a scoring opportunity.

Talented players dont lose their talent overnight. But they can lose their indestructible shield that keeps them safe from doubts.

Kevin Pietersen may not approve of his return to the county game. But if he is to rebuild that ‘best batsman in the world feeling’, a time of self-reflection, humility and reassessment is no bad thing.

Posted in Cricket Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.