Swerving between the slalom gates of success and failure like a drunken Olympic skier, Pietersen has had one bad series in the 14 he has played, but, arguably, not a single great one. Between the last Ashes and the start of the recent West Indies series, Pietersen scored nine centuries in 22 Tests, but still averaged only just over 50, alternating between the golden underpants of triumph and the dank jockstrap of failure with no apparent link to current form.
Increasingly capable of painstakingly over-careful accumulation, or tub-thumpingly reckless aggression, Pietersen has at times demolished Warne and Muralitharan, but is vulnerable to club-standard finger spin. As captain, he even managed to coax an outburst of baffling unpredictability from the stolid old ECB. Anything seems possible with Pietersen. Would it really be a surprise if he came out to bat dressed as Elvis or scored a 60-ball hundred whilst batting with a dead ferret instead of a bat?