Injured Pietersen upbeat about England
Kevin Pietersen and the England camp are in high spirits even though the team has much to prove after its disastrous World Cup and even-less-impressive Ashes series. Pietersen is hopeful of recovering from his calf strain in time for the first Test against West Indies at Lord's next week.
A big part of England's positivity stems from the fact that the fast-bowling trio of Simon Jones, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard will come together again. This follows a long lay-off for Jones, while Harmison and Hoggard are back on England duty after four months of one-dayers.
"All the guys who haven't been around for a while are doing really well," Pietersen told the London-based Sport magazine on Friday. "That gives us some big, big positives - people are having to compete for their places now."
Another big factor is the new coach Peter Moores, who met the squad at Loughborough last week. "Having a new manager is a clean slate for everybody," said Pietersen. "He went through everything that he wants - his ambitions and how he likes to go about his work."
Pietersen was impressed with what he saw - and what he saw was something of himself in Moores. "He is pretty similar to me, in that he is a very simple guy and he relies on discipline and believes in the right preparation. If you go about your business preparing properly, your performances will look after themselves."
But Michael Vaughan's absence would be, of course, a massive blow. "His leadership is what we missed in Australia. He is a class player and his captaincy is fantastic - it'd be great to have him back this summer."
Andrew Flintoff will be available, but will need to rediscover his form with the bat. He has 3381 Test runs, but he hasn't shown his explosive form for a long time.
Still, Pietersen isn't too concerned. "Everybody knows Freddie is still a great player. He knows he just probably needed to have a break. Hopefully these past two or three weeks - he's had a week with his family in Barbados, too - will stand him in good stead for this summer."