England in India 2012-13 October 29, 2012

Pietersen to make England return


Kevin Pietersen is set to return to England duty for the first time since August in the opening match of their tour of India.

Pietersen has not played for England since the second Test against South Africa at Headingley but is back to bat at No. 4 against India A in a three-day match in Mumbai, for which Stuart Broad was named vice-captain, a role he will fulfill throughout the tour.

Pietersen's inclusion suggests the reintegration process, put in place to aid his return to the England squad, has been successful. His return follows a 73-day stand-off with the ECB and being initially left out of the India touring party before he signed a four-month central contract and was added to the squad. Now Andy Flower, the England team director, sees no reason why Pietersen shouldn't get his full central contract in due course.

"I hadn't actually thought much about the extension of his contract," Flower said upon arrival in India. "We are focussing on playing well in India. But I don't envisage a problem, I think we can work very well in the future and we have already started that process. We have had some great success and great times over the last few years, and I don't see a problem in the future."

A majority of England's first interaction with the media in India understandably centred around Pietersen. He fell out with the England team during the South Africa series and was dropped for the third Test at Lord's. He has not played for England since and used a YouTube video to state his availability for all forms of international cricket, renouncing his previous retirement from the 50-over format.

Pietersen's return to the England squad required a reintegration process. He interrupted his stay in South Africa for the Champions League T20 to fly back to Britain for meetings with Flower, captain Alastair Cook and other senior players and now Flower is confident the team and Pietersen will be able to put behind them whatever differences they had.

"Whatever label you want to put on it, Kevin is coming back into the team after a few problems that we had in our side," Flower said. "I am confident that we will work well together from now on."

Flower was positive that Pietersen will be back to his best. "It takes a little while to get back into your rhythm and top form but he is an amazing cricketer," Flower said. "Playing T20 cricket, the first few innings he had, he must have been a tad rusty, but he scored a good fifty in the semi-final. With a couple of knocks in the tour games for the Test matches I am sure he will be fine."

Asked if this might be the last chance for Pietersen, who has had a chequered history with the establishment, Flower said, "I don't think of it in those terms at all. I am looking forward to him being involved. I had a long chat with him this morning. We have had a number of chats on the phone and of course he flew back to England just recently. I think we will work well together."

Alastair Cook, captaining the Test side for the first time, said he couldn't wait to have Pietersen back in the side. "We all landed here quite early in this morning, around 5am, so it has been a day of recovery," he said. "We have seen Kev, he is desperate to get going and we are desperate to have him back in the team. As I have always said it is great to have world-class players in our team, and if we play the standard of cricket we know we are capable of we got to have our best players to do that."

Cook said Pietersen's experience in the subcontinent will be great for the side. "As I said it is great to have Kev back and like any batter in the team, he is there to score runs and off the field to pass some of the experience he has got to the rest of the lads," he said. "He has played a huge amount of cricket now - 90 Test matches - and a lot of cricket in the subcontinent as well in the IPL. That experience will be invaluable for us to get used to these conditions as quick as we can."

Pietersen's return at No. 4 means England are likely to open the batting with Nick Compton alongside Cook. There was a possibility that Pietersen might bat at No. 3 with Jonathan Trott opening the innings, but it seems Cook will have to manage the opening task with an inexperienced partner in Compton. At any rate, it will be a little surreal for Cook to walk out with Andrew Strauss not by his side.

"That is one of the biggest changes," Cook said. "It will be strange walking out to bat for England without Andrew Strauss. It was a pleasure to bat with him and it was great knowing such a familiar face down the other end. We are friends off the cricket field, and I think that showed in our relationship when we were batting in the middle.

"It is a shame that it will never happen again but it is a great opportunity for someone else to come and open the batting for England. I made my debut six-and-a-half years ago in India, and it is a great place to open the batting and it is a great opportunity for someone to stick their hands up and make the opening place theirs. There is no better place to bat than opening for England."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on October 31, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    @zenboomerang on (October 31 2012, 12:39 PM GMT) Mate - be as disrespectful as you like to our selectors. When I first read the post I thought you said your selections and not your selectors. Basically , apart from Jimmy and Swann I wouldn't say anyone should be nailed on for a place although Broad (who is probably my favourite player but I try not to let bias get in the way) will almost certainly be nailed on even if he might not be the best option. As with the batsmen there seems to be a pecking order which they'll rarely change. They dropped Swann for a test but I'd say it was more of a rest due to his injury concerns. My 5 would prob be Bres,Swann,Jimmy,Onions and Monty. Definitely the latter 4 and at the moment Bres just edges Broad for me but that could change.

  • Roo on October 31, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    @JG2704... Wasn't being disrespectfall to Eng selectors - I am much tougher on our Oz selectors :)

  • Roo on October 31, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    @JG2704... I am often confused by your selectors in regards to Monty/Onions - I know you can't have everyone but there have been times when Broad, Bresnan haven't been in form... I feel that Broad gets 'free passage' into the team when he or conditions do not warrant it... Re: my "Your are on the money" comment, it was the Strauss/KP comment - about as close to what actually happened as we'll likely to hear...

  • John on October 30, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    @NickeyT on (October 30 2012, 11:14 AM GMT) I'd actually try to get Onions and Monty in the side. Monty was great in UAE and was harshly dropped IMO after the 1st SL test and Onions has been the most consistent English bowler in the domestic game for about a decade now. I'd have a 5 man attack for sure and I think right now it would be Bres,Swann,Jimmy,Onions,Monty . I'd say Jimmy and Swann should be the only 2 who are nailed on for a place but it seems Broad is too. As for Woakes - it seems England don't like him for some reason , even in the ODIs/T20s when you look at the multiple opportunities Jade has had... On form/averages from the last season you'd think he'd be good enough to be considered as a batsman even if he didn't bowl. I think he was omitted from the recent A/Performance squad which was really baffling

  • Nickey on October 30, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    @landl47 : Bresnan seems to be doing pretty good against India A. He got 3 wickets. It's going to be difficult to drop him for Finn. I know Finn is a great bowler, but he really has a hard time finding his place in the team. I think the main issue is to choose between Finn & Patel. A great bowler or an OK-spinner who can bat... Or just a batsman ? I still continue thinking Chris Woakes would be the perfect man !

  • Sidharth on October 30, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    Nice to see Yuvi scoring. But there were few more surprises which included MTiwary, IPathan and AMukund. Selectors seriously have to do some serious thinking for one spot i.e. sixth batsmen and the key contenders would be Yuvi / MTiwary / SRaina. Hope the current selectors respect their own decision and not MSD's decision on who would be in the squad. . . If I had to take a decision . . SRaina is not even worth thinking. Tough fight between Yuvi and MTiwari. But Yuvi has an edge as he scored a double century in a recently concluded first class match.

  • narsimha on October 30, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    KARIMJAVED-Who cares , we are more than enough , one billion people support metters , more over we are also eagerly waiting u r SA tour

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    @Hansaka Lakshamana: nice joke mate. When is the last series India lost in ur land???????????????????????

  • Sharon on October 30, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    @Front-Foot_lunge on (October 30 2012, 08:52 AM GMT) LOL LOL LOL. @Front-Foot_lunge - you are INDIA FAN... And as an India fan @Front-Foot_lunge that feeling of dread you describe is the one that proceeded every India loss and I can tell you, over the last year, there were plenty of those.

  • Rayner on October 30, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    How is broad vice cap? he doesn't appear to be playing from the score sheet i'm looking at...?

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