England news October 17, 2012

Pietersen decision looms over Cook


Alastair Cook provided the strongest hint yet that Kevin Pietersen is close to a return to the England side, stating that the time had come to "draw a line in the sand for the sake of English cricket."

Pietersen has not played for England since the second Test of the series against South Africa. After it emerged that he had exchanged "provocative" messages with members of the South Africa touring party, he was omitted from the side for the third Test and then left out of the squad that tried in vain to defend the World Twenty20 and the squad for the Test tour of India.

Pietersen's chances of being added to that tour squad seem to be increasing by the day. He met Cook in Oxford on Tuesday during a flying visit from South Africa and, while all involved are guarded to the point of paranoia about the details - at one stage Cook declined to answer whether he and Pietersen had met for coffee or a meal - it does seem that the "reintegration" process that the ECB claimed that Pietersen had embarked upon with his England colleagues is progressing.

"The process is well on the way," Cook said. "Clearly it has to be behind closed doors, but the meetings are going on and hopefully the best result will come from them.

"We do need to draw a line in the sand at some stage for the sake of English cricket. We need to move forward as a team. We've got an amazing 18 months ahead of us and we need to move together."

Cook admitted that time was running out ahead of the England team's departure for a pre-tour training camp in Dubai - they leave on October 25 - but reiterated the view that the process could not be hurried.

"It is more than a rubber-stamping exercise," he said. "It's a very important decision that we've got to get right for the sake of the England side moving forward. And it's got to be thorough so we can move on in the right way. It's important we don't rush this process so we can get the best result. We want all our world-class players playing for England. You need your world-class players to win games of cricket. You want to be able to pick from the best players you can."

Cook was talking at the launch of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 which will be held in June next year at The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston. Whatever England's travails in other forms of the game, their ODI form in 2012 has been good and Cook knows that Pietersen's return will give his side a decent opportunity to win a global ODI trophy for the first time. Playing at home, in English conditions and with recent changes to ODI playing regulations - such as the use of two new balls - should all be to England's advantage.

While Cook, who as a relative newcomer to England's limited-overs team has never played in a senior global event, is the first to accept that England's position at the top of the ODI rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt, he feels their recent form shows strong evidence of improvement.

England are unbeaten in their last eight ODI series in England and have won seven of them. They also achieved their best ever sequence of ODI results in 2012 with 10 victories in a row extending from the series against Pakistan in the UAE and incorporating victories against West Indies and Australia.

"The ranking for us as an ODI side are not that important," Cook said. "We don't feel like we're the No.1 side. We've a huge amount of work to do. The consistency in our play has to improve. What's important is that we keep trying to improve.

"I think we won 10 games in a row. That's showed we're heading in the right direction, but we've still got a lot of work to do as a side. We've guys who have played 10 or 15 ODIs and when you compare that to teams who have played 200 games, it shows the inexperience we have. We need to keep developing as players and as a squad.

"But we've got a fantastic home record. In these conditions, we've a good chance and the Champions Trophy will give us a really good indication of how we perform in a tournament. We want to win. When we play the Champions Trophy we won't be looking at the World Cup. We won't be picking players for 2015. We'll be picking players to win the Champions Trophy."

The 2013 version will be the last staging of the Champions Trophy. The ICC, reasoning that only one global trophy was required for each format of the game, will instead introduce a World Test Championship from 2017 alongside the World Cup and the World T20.

To help the 2013 event maintain momentum and intensity, it will last only 18 days and comprise just the top eight ODI teams. Tickets prices have been sensibly capped - the top price for the final at Edgbaston is a relatively modest £60 - to reflect the difficult economic climate and the fact that the Ashes later in the English summer may well remain the priority of UK spectators.

However, the ICC and ECB expressed optimism that the ethnic diversity of the UK population should help ensure full houses for the majority of the matches. The ECB will also host the inaugural World Test Championship and the Women's World Cup in 2017 and the World Cup in 2019.

See the best eight teams in one-day international cricket take part in the ICC Champions Trophy in June 2013 - tickets for The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are on sale on 5 November at icc-cricket.com (pre-registration open now)

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    To be fair its probably easier to find an ok spinner, an 80mph swing bowler and a 80-85mph steady up and downer, than a truely world class batsman who can change/win any game in which ever of the 3 formats he is playing. So on balance I would pick Peterson over Swann,Broad and Anderson the over-rated.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Sathish.Velu I'm not sure what that series last year has to do with a) the KP issue b) England's ODI record in 2012 or c) the Champions Trophy in England next year, maybe we should mention 4-0 in Tests as well?

  • John on October 18, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    From a cricketing point of view I feel that KP should be in but I don't like the idea of England dropping a player to make way for him. If I had to choose a player to make way for him it would be Morgan , partly because I feel they are similar players but mainly because I feel that Morgan hasn't done enough to warrant his place in the side - I didn't feel this even before the KP saga and I can't see that if Eng thought he wasn't up to the job after UAE , what he's done to change their minds. Even if he is included , I don't necessarily think he'll be as huge an asset as some think he'll be. If we look at his recent test stats in SC type conditions , he was if memory served me correct the 8th best batsman in UAE barely scraping double figures and had one decent test in SL.

  • sathish on October 18, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    please mention about the 5straight losses in india against too

  • David on October 18, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    Pietersen has got 2-3 years left for England - 10,000 runs/30 Test hundreds will be his target. Beat India in India, home and away back to back Ashes victories, followed by vengeance against SA - Simth loses captaincy after being beaten by Cook's England in 2015. Justice is done, KPs reuptation is secure and complete freedom to indulge in IPL for the rest of his career.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    Lets hope common decency and selfrespect wins out and KP NEVER plays for England again!

  • Samuel on October 18, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    @JMC - who does miss out if KP gets in the squad? I'd feel for Compton & Root hugely if one of them ended up dropping out, even if I disagreed with Root's selection in the first place. For me Morgan would be the obvious choice; the reason I think he got a central contract in the first place was because of KP's absence & the selectors panicked, feeling the need for a stroke-maker in the ranks. He shouldn't be anywhere near the Test squad at present, but now he has the CC the selectors have backed themselves into a corner & he'll probably end up staying in. I'd think Root would be the one to miss out, dropping into the EPP, with Compton either taking Strauss' place in the side from the start or replacing Bell when he flies home.

  • Bhargav on October 18, 2012, 10:09 GMT

    Too many ICC events, champions trophy, world cup, world t20

  • Rayner on October 18, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Hopefully chef can bring back KP, hopefully the first success in a long career of successes for him. In terms of the order in India, contrary to mos on here, I think we need Trott at 3, he's barely put a foot wrong there and I am very much of the opinion that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' With Strauss going and us having no long term solution to the no.6 spot, I would go for Compton as an opener, I like Root but he's too green still and having 3 batsmen who really value their wickets at the top would be great, I don't think in tests there is any need to get off to a flyer, the important thing is not to lose 2 or more wickets to the new ball, also I would rather have our better players of spin - Kp & Bell facing the older ball. I think we should go with - Cook, Compton, Trott, KP, Bell, Morgan, Prior, Swann, Panesar, Anderson, Broad or pick Bres/Patel for Morgy on a real flat track.

  • richard on October 18, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    What dilemma, oh yeah Broad Swann and Anderson.

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