England news October 20, 2012

Flintoff backs Pietersen to perform in India

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former England captain Andrew Flintoff has predicted a successful reintegration into the team for Kevin Pietersen, saying the batsman will draw strength from recent adversity when England tour India in November. Flintoff said Pietersen had a track record of responding to strife with good performances, and expected him to turn the misgivings from his exile from the team into runs for England.

"When people get on Kevin's case he comes out swinging and scores runs," Flintoff told BBC Sport. "I think Alastair Cook might benefit from this. He might get KP at his best."

Pietersen was added to the squad to India, having missed the final Test and limited-overs leg of South Africa's tour of England, as well as the World Twenty20, because of text messages he had sent to South Africa players criticising Andrew Strauss, who was captain at the time. Pietersen has since been accepted back into the team, after he, the ECB and England's team leadership discussed their concerns behind closed doors.

Pietersen first showed a tendency to be steeled rather than weakened by adversity in an ODI series in South Africa in 2005, when he made three hundreds and a 75 despite crowds in his former nation treating him with hostility. In August this year, he made 149 against South Africa at Headingley, just as his deteriorating relationship with the England team began to play out in the media.

"When Kevin's got a point to prove, he usually proves it with the bat," Flintoff said. "We saw that when he came into the international game in South Africa and he just kept scoring hundreds. In his last innings, he got a hundred at Headingley and saved England."

Flintoff also said Pietersen was invaluable to England's cause, and that efforts needed to be made to smooth over differences given his considerable ability. In April this year, Pietersen made 151 in Colombo to help end a five-Test away losing streak for England.

"I think his qualities as a player outweigh everything. Like everyone else he needs a bit of encouragement," Flintoff said. "When you are as good as he is, you need an arm round the shoulder and you need the backing of the team. He is different, but if you want Kevin the player, you have Kevin [the person as well]. If he starts scoring runs and England win, it will quickly be forgotten."

Flintoff expected Pietersen's reintegration into the team to be more difficult for some of his team-mates. Graeme Swann and James Anderson were thought to have had issues with Pietersen, with Swann having criticised Pietersen's captaincy in a book released last year. Swann, Anderson and Stuart Broad all denied being party to a parody Twitter account making fun of Pietersen.

"I think Kev will be fine," Flintoff said. "It might be a bit more uncomfortable for some of the others who have not been too kind in books, in paper reports and in interviews. Everyone's got an ego. Maybe there are a few clashing in that dressing-room at the minute and they just need to put them to one side and carry on."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nik on October 22, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    KP is back and will score some runs in india for sure. may be 80 in first test inngs plus 20 in 2nd . then 2, 7 then 100,60 Sachin iam hoping will score 18,65 2nd 122,39*. 102,25* Sehwag 40, 2 2nd 0,0 3rd 65, 44

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    This m8 be the last test series played by tendulkar. i wish all the best for this series may God help him acheive his last wish-- scoring triple hundred

  • Premanand on October 22, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    KP is back that's a god news for world cricket as well as ENG. With KP in the Indian Think Tank will lose sleep over him, and others like cook, trott & Bell will benefit from this. Still KP will score 300 plus runs in this series. Their bowling is weak in IND conditions and i expect Shewag to explode in atleast one Test, One hundred from the GOD, consistent performance from Pujara and Virat Kohli. Will be an even contest. IND has to produce their A game to draw or even win the series by a slender 1 test margin. It will be a tough series with none of the 2 teams dominating. May be ENG's lack of experience in Sub Continental conditions (except KP & COOK) may be well decide the series in IND's favour. I expect the scoreline to be 2-1 in India's favour

  • John on October 21, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    There are 2 ways of looking at whether Flintoff is qualified to give his opinions. As someone mentioned , we lost an Ashes series 5-0 under his leadership but we also drew a test series in India under his leadership and I seem to remember him scoring a battling , against the grain 50 in that game too. He mentions how KP always plays his best when his back's against the wall etc , but isn't this the opposite , with fans clamouring for his return and in India where he is adored? As for Flintoff himself he seems to have gone down in the world from doing Morrisons ads to Jackamo ads. Latest is he was trying to becoming a boxer. Quite funny as he was always injured in the far less rigorous sport of cricket

  • Daison on October 21, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    KP's return to the side is gonna make it difficult for India to dominate. A fired up KP is not someone any team can handle. And with a few points to prove for him KP is gonna come all guns blazing. As much as I want India to dominate this series, if India doesnt dominate or even manage to concede the series, I would be happy if KP delivers his "alpha male" performances with big hundreds.

  • Ankit on October 21, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    KP is not the cricketer England team and management deserves, but the one they need right now.

  • vikram on October 21, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    So more and more TEASING/Misconduct of KP results in more and more RUNS from his bat........hmmm...........height of optimism

  • Jag on October 21, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    I predict KP will score atleast 2 BIG centuries! And the test series will not be as easy for Indians as they think

  • Sammy on October 20, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    KP has a point to prove alright and that is he is much much better than all of the english batsmen combined!

  • Matthew on October 20, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    One overrated player talking about another

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