England news October 18, 2012

Pietersen exile ends with India call up


Kevin Pietersen has been added to England's squad for the forthcoming Test series in India, so bringing to an end one of the most extraordinary stand-offs in the history of the game between a star player and those appointed to rule.

It has taken 73 days for England and Pietersen to patch up their differences since he followed up what should have been one of the most triumphant moments of his career - a stirring century in the Headingley Test against South Africa - by talking of deep and perhaps irreparable divisions with the ECB and some members of the England dressing room.

Once the parties began to talk, the "reintegration process" of Pietersen into the England side took only a couple of days. It just took them an extremely long time to talk.

Pietersen flew back to England from the Champions League in South Africa this week for a series of meetings in Oxford and London with Andy Flower, England's director of cricket, the captain Alastair Cook and key England players with whom his relationship had become increasingly fractious. Even a delayed flight could not prevent the speedy patching up of their differences.

Confirmation that the Cold War was coming to an end came in Colombo a fortnight ago when Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, flanked by a nervous Pietersen, pronounced that it was time for "forgiveness" and a reintegration into "our society."

Hugh Morris, England cricket's managing director, made what followed all sound eminently straightforward, saying: "We were keen that Kevin should hold a series of face-to-face meetings with team management and senior players before the Test squad departs for the UAE and India next week.

"The meetings were constructive and cordial and all outstanding issues have been resolved. All the England players and management are now keen to draw a line under this matter and fully focus on the cricketing challenge that lies ahead in India."

In their desire to impress upon Pietersen that no player, however talented, was greater than the team, England lacked their most destructive batsman and arguably failed to qualify for the World Twenty20 semi-finals in Sri Lanka while he was employed instead as a pundit in a Colombo TV studio.

Considering the political machinations that have gone on behind the scenes, the announcement by Geoff Miller, the chief selector, of Pietersen's return to England's fold could not have sounded more deadpan.

"We are pleased to welcome a player of Kevin's proven international calibre back into the Test squad for such an important Test series," his statement read. "As we anticipate that Ian Bell will return home for the birth of his first child around the time of the second Test in Mumbai, the team will benefit from having an extra batsman in the squad and all players who were originally selected for the tour will fly out as planned next week."

The addition of Pietersen will give England more options at the top of the order, bringing the possibility that he cdould bat at No 3, so allowing Jonathan Trott to be considered as an opening batsman in preference to the two other batsmen originally earmarked for the role, Nick Compton or Joe Root.

Pietersen has been given licence to fulfil his Champions League commitments with Delhi Daredevils before joining up with the squad. He gave his reaction on Twitter: "BOOOOOOOOM!! The happiest days of my career have been playing cricket for ENG. Long may that continue! Thanks everyone for your kind words."

Pietersen returns then, but he returns on very different terms. It could not have been made more apparent that Flower, as England's director of cricket, must be entirely respected, whether in judging how hard he trains or what training top he should wear to do it.

Flower, who had seen the last England coach, Peter Moores, lose his job after Pietersen, as captain, encouraged and then led a rebellion, will now expect unerring loyalty.

The England hierarchy is convinced that their uncompromising stance has brought Pietersen to heel and that their assertion that the team ethic is more important than any glorious individual achievement has been pronounced from the rooftops. Pietersen now has what England see as a final chance to harness his abilities to the demands of the team.

Clarke, in his announcement in Colombo, made it sound as if Pietersen had been released from imprisonment. In that case, we can presume that, in England's mind, he is still tagged, his every move watched for evidence of regression.

Pietersen is back, but who knows for how long? Relationships with several England players remain frosty, particularly with the Nottinghamshire pair of Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, who captained England in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

He has played his most exceptional innings when he has felt the adulation of the crowd and acceptance of his fellows. Exuberance, overstatement and an arrogant belief in his own ability are part of his DNA. He must now perform for England in India in an atmosphere, irrespective of the "success" of the integration process, which will not be healed overnight.

It remains to be seen whether he will find inspiration from that or whether England, in taming their most unpredictable talent, may also have damaged him beyond measure.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marzuk Rahman on October 21, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    JG2704 on (October 21 2012, 09:44 AM GMT) That was Ajmal's magic.Indian spinners don't have that venom like Pakistan has.Ashwin's got variety but in my opinion he is no good for test cricket.You need to be consistent with line & length in test cricket but Ashwin tries too much.Bell had problems with Ajmal's doosra which no Indian bowler bowls effectively like Ajmal does.Bell is a class player,you can't judge a player with just 1 bad series.Even the likes of Tendulkar,Micheal Clarke,Sanga,Jayawardene struggle against Ajmal.I back Bell to do well in this 1 (if he plays all tha matches only).

  • John on October 21, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    @Nayel_19 on (October 21 2012, 05:30 AM GMT) Maybe Bell is just unlucky then because the stats tell a different story and maybe I was having hallucinations when watching our best player of spin plying his trade in UAE?

  • John on October 21, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    @Meety on (October 20 2012, 21:56 PM GMT) TBH , I don't hold out much faith in Bell either. His record in SC conditions is poor and 1 x50 in the whole UAE/SL tours (inc warm up games) do little to convince me either. Woakes doesn't seem to have found favour with the selectors. Also Flower said after the UAE tour about his players being undercooked. It's good to see that he's learning his lessons and is ensuring England players are all playing plenty of cricket in the build up to the series .

  • John on October 21, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar on (October 20 2012, 00:26 AM GMT) PS re "Let's see if they learnt how to play spin barring KP, Bell and Trott" 1 - The only other batsman who has played in India in tests before was Cook and he has a better record than Bell in SC so why isn't he getting a mention and why is Bell (whose record in SC has been poor) being lorded up here? 2 - Guys like Compton and Root have not played there before so it's an unknown quantity. 3 - Re these crushings , if we're talking tests , our last 2 series were 0-1 and 1-1 in India - is that a crushing? Don't get me wrong you might well crush us but 1-0 and 1-1 isn't a crushing.

  • John on October 21, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar on (October 20 2012, 00:26 AM GMT) You say "Just at the drop of a hat we see bad blood between Indians and English. Cut it guys" but then go on to say "Some England fans can say what all they want about India but fact is that England were crushed time and again in India. Period" - Do you not feel that the second comm (regardless of the truth) goes some way to undo the 1st part?

  • Marzuk Rahman on October 21, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    I think England will need to play some aggressive cricket if they want to win or atleast draw this series.If they play old fashion cricket which they do at home they will make it easier for India.They need to be aggressivw with both bat & ball.I dont know why you guys are argueing about bell? He is the best player of spin after KP in this squad.Bell uses his feet against spinners which is the key to playing spinners in this subcontinent conditions.I really wanted Bopara & Morgan in this touring squad as they tackle spin well & both are aggressive players too.If England openers can survive till first 20 overs of every innings then it will be easier for the other batsmen to come in and attack.I think attacking the Indian bowlers is the key here.

  • richard on October 21, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    @disco_bob... when were England nmber 1 ?

  • disco on October 21, 2012, 2:02 GMT

    @Ashankar, WishW, in the old days people used to argue about who was the best no.1 team, W Indies or Australia. Now they argue about who was the least worst no.1 team, Ind or Eng.

  • Andrew on October 20, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    @Chris_P on (October 18 2012, 22:31 PM GMT) - the points you have mae about the Eng v India series are the reasons why I think Oz will do well in India. We SHOULD do better half the side plays in India half the time so we should be well aclimatised!

  • Andrew on October 20, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    @JG2704 on (October 20 2012, 07:38 AM GMT) - the side I "selected" was of the touring squad, the squad is not what I would of gone with. I would of included Kerrigan (India have a habit of fluffing up against unknown bowlers, Krezja is an example), & I would of selected Woakes. Woakes would of batted #7, I think he is the most credentialled allrounder going allrounder going around in FC cricket atm. I would of played him ahead of Patel, & relied on Monty & Swanny to do the bulk of the overs, rotating the pacers in shorter bursts. Regarding Bell, I s'pose there is every chance that he could have a break out summer, but I really struggle to appreciate his abilities so my mind is closed on him! I am confident that England can take a test off India & are good enough to draw a test or two as well. I suspect, that Kholi will a massive series for India, & I think Dhoni will lead with the bat, I rate Pujarra highly as well. I also think Zaheer may take a few early wickets as well. 2-1 India!

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