Pietersen confirmed as England captain
Kevin Pietersen has been swiftly appointed as Michael Vaughan's successor as Test captain, while also taking the one-day leadership after Paul Collingwood handed in his notice yesterday following Vaughan's departure. Pietersen, one of the few members guaranteed to be a key player of both teams in the next few years, was the favourite to take on the joint role and his appointment was confirmed by the ECB at Lord's today. He will lead out the side for the fourth Test against South Africa this week and promised to lead on gut instinct but ask for advice, after making a decision he described as "very, very emotional".
Vaughan's resignation on Sunday brought to an end a five-year tenure as the most successful England Test captain with 26 wins. Pietersen takes over with just one ODI as captain under his belt, having led the side against New Zealand at Lord's in June when Collingwood was serving a four-ODI suspension. Andrew Flintoff had taken the reins when Vaughan was injured for England's last Ashes campaign, the ill-fated 5-0 walloping by Australia in 2006-07.
Pietersen said: "I am very thrilled and excited to have been given the opportunity to captain England. It's a huge honour for me and a terrific challenge for me at this stage of my international career."
When asked if his batting would be affected by the responsibility of captaincy, he said: "Time will tell, we will have to wait and see. I hope not. I hope it won't restrict the way I play. I play the way that I play and it's a way that I've been successful so far in my career and it's something that I want to keep really high level." Geoff Miller, the ECB's national selector, added that though this had been considered it was a "very very short discussion."
Pietersen admitted that when he qualified for England in 2004 he had no idea he would one day play international cricket for them, nor that he would one day lead them. "I couldn't envisage playing for England. Everything just happened so quickly."
He said that replacing Vaughan was a big task. "They are huge boots that I've got to fill but I will do my best. What a great leader, what a great man. I have learned a great deal about leadership from playing under both Michael and Paul and fully appreciate the level of responsibility that comes with the job of captaining your country.
"My immediate priority will be this week's fourth Test and I will be devoting all my energies to ensuring that the team is properly prepared and plays to its full potential starting on Thursday. It's a great honour, a great privilege and something which has turned my life around in the last 24 hours. "
Miller said: "In choosing a new captain, we were keen to identify a player who could lead the team in all three forms of cricket and bring fresh enthusiasm and ideas to the role of captain. Kevin is a world-class player who will command the respect of the dressing room and I am sure that he will be looking to lead from the front and work closely with both the players and the coaching staff to bring England success in the future.
"I would like to thank both Michael and Paul for their outstanding contributions to the leadership of the Test and the one-day teams. I am delighted that they will both continue to make themselves available for selection as players."
Miller gave Pietersen his full backing: "We're looking for a fresh approach. He will take us forward in an exciting manner. I'm sure he will take us forward."
The biggest hint about how Pietersen is going to approach the leadership came when he compared it to his general attitude. "I'm not going to be a wimp and say I'm not going to do it," he said. "I'm going to accept this challenge and give it a go like I give everything a go."
Ravi Bopara has been brought in to take Vaughan's spot as batsman for the fourth Test at The Oval, a dead rubber which begins on Thursday. Vaughan has chosen to take a break from cricket and with South Africa already having sealed the series, it will be a good opportunity for Bopara - who has three Tests to his name - to try to shine.
The selectors also named a 15-man squad for one-day series and Twenty20 against South Africa which includes the uncapped Nottinghamshire batsman Samit Patel and a recall for the Sussex wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Test squad Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen (capt), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Tim Ambrose (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar.
One-day squad Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen (capt), Owais Shah, Ian Bell, Samit Patel, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Chris Tremlett, Luke Wright.