The Independent’s Stephen Berkely on an atypical outbreak of (planned) self-mutilation in the world of cricket as England follow their recent test series victory in South Africa with 7 one day internationals.

Kevin Pietersen asserted his affinity with England yesterday by announcing his intention to have a tattoo of the three lions motif etched on his left arm. Whether construed as horribly tacky or touchingly patriotic, it would be as well if he avoids visiting the engraver before entering the Wanderers tomorrow in front of an infamously partisan and vociferous crowd.

Spectators at the Johannesburg arena consider it their bounden duty to terrify the opposition – usually with words to wither the staunchest individual but sometimes with more physical forms of abuse – and the sight of a batsman who was born and raised in Durban striding out to represent the English is already designed to provoke them into previously unheard torrents of invective.

Pietersen appears to have borrowed his particularly distinctive version of an oath of allegiance from Darren Gough, the England fast bowler, who has a similar inscription. “I think there’s a strong probability of having it done on the day we leave but not before then because I believe it forms a scab,” said Pietersen yesterday.

“The three lions with my cap number 185 underneath. That’s not a Christmas present, that’s for life. If anybody comes up to me and tells me I’m not English…”