Pietersen selection moves closer
England depart for Sri Lanka today with even more baggage than normal for a touring team. The decision to delay the announcement of the England squad for the Test tour of India means that speculation over the position of Kevin Pietersen will spill over into their World T20 campaign.
It looks increasingly likely that Pietersen will be included in the squad for India. While for some time there was an impasse over Pietersen's future, the appointment of Alastair Cook as captain seems to have revitalised the process. Cook missed the last round of Championship matches as did Pietersen which would have helped facilitate further talks between the pair.
Cook, who is understandably keen to begin his captaincy career with the strongest possible team, would appear to have convinced all parties to redouble their efforts to find a solution to the Pietersen conundrum. While it would be premature to conclude that Pietersen will definitely be included, the situation is swinging that way.
One man who insists that Pietersen should be included is Darren Gough, the former England fast bowler who played with Cook at Essex and was best man at Pietersen's wedding. He accepts that Pietersen's behaviour in recent months has fallen below acceptable standards but Gough believes that others players in the squad have also been at fault and that the time has now come to "shake hands and get on with it".
"There has been some immaturity on both sides," Gough told ESPNcricinfo. "There are issues with the parody Twitter account - I think it's obvious that players were involved in that - and there are issues with things that were written in players' books about Kevin that were just not right. But at the same time, some of Kevin's words have not been acceptable. Everyone knows that.
"But haven't we all called the boss a few names at some stage? It happens. You don't have to be the best of friends on the pitch; you just have to be prepared to work together. Nasser Hussain and I used to argue like cat and dog when he was England captain. But neither of us ever held a grudge. He got the best out of me. I'd have run through a brick wall for him.
"What do you do? You look each other in the eye, shake hands and get on with it. And that's what I expect to happen.
"Alastair Cook has come in. He's an ambitious new captain and he wants to win. And so he should. So he's come in determined to take the best side he can to India. He knows - we all know - that Kevin is in the best team. I'm very hopeful he'll be in the team now and I definitely think he should be."
The England squad will be named on Tuesday.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo