PAUL COLLINGWOOD is backing team-mate Kevin Pietersen to silence his critics and lead England to a series victory in Johannesburg.
Pietersen has come under criticism for his batting form so far this series after returning from four months out with an Achilles injury.
The tourists go into the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers, starting tomorrow, looking to convert a 1-0 lead into a famous series victory over a Proteas side ranked second in the world.
And Collingwood believes the stage is set perfectly for South African-born Pietersen to shine, insisting the Hampshire batsman is often a victim of his own success.
“I think sometimes we look at KP and think he should be doing it every single match – and it’s probably his own downfall that he’s such a good player,” said Collingwood, whose battling 40 helped England secure a draw in the last Test in Cape Town.
“He’s a kind of genius, and when he goes a couple of games without a score people say he’s in terrible nick. He can turn it on – and we hope it will be this game.”
South African captain Graeme Smith has upped the stakes ahead of the Test, instructing the groundsman to prepare a livelier pitch to benefit their seam attack.
And Collingwood, for one, knows just what to expect. “Let’s be honest, they’re not going to produce a flat, flat wicket,” he said. “They need a win – and to do that, they’ve got to gamble a little bit.
“But it’s exciting. It’s a game we should all be wanting to win the man of the match, to win the series for England. It will be a massive achievement for us.
“We’re happy where we are at the moment. But we’ll be even happier if we get the draw or the win out of this game.”