New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland March 21, 2013

KP put his body on the line - Cook


Alastair Cook praised Kevin Pietersen's commitment to the England team and insisted that his knee injury had become too painful to play through following the decision to rule him out of the final Test in Auckland and all cricket for up to two months, including IPL.

But Cook was hopeful that Pietersen, who joined in with fielding drills at Eden Park before flying home on Thursday evening, may yet be available for the home series against New Zealand which begins in mid-May. The key target, however, remains the Ashes and, before that, the Champions Trophy with the former certainly the priority. England's one-day side has learned to live without Pietersen but they would be weakened by his absence for the Champions Trophy.

In the present, the Test top order will be less stable without him even though he has not been at his best during this series, hindered, it has emerged, by the knee problem since the warm-up match in Queenstown. The injury has been managed for two Tests, with Pietersen scoring 73 in Wellington and spending most of the time in the field, but the deciding match has been considered not worth the risk with Cook making it clear that the move would have been made regardless of the opposition.

"We're getting robbed of him in this game. He hasn't been 100% fit, but he's put his body on the line trying to play for England," he said. "That's all you want from all your players. He felt he could get through, and we felt he could get through, those two games. This game might be a step too far.

"It's important now we don't jump to too many conclusions. He goes home and gets to see the specialist, and sees exactly what's wrong with him. It's important he's fit as soon as he can be. You do look sometimes at future planning, but I think if this was an Ashes Test match he wouldn't be playing in it.

Surgery may yet be needed to correct Pietersen's problem, which could be caused by cartilage damage, but Cook is hoping for positive news from the scans that will be taken in a few days.

"At the moment, it's not great for English cricket that one of our senior and best players has an injury concern going into the summer. That's not ideal. If the injury is not so bad, as we hope, and it's just a bit of rest and no operation needed then on the plus side he gets a bit of time off and is ready to go for the Ashes."

Pietersen's injury means that three senior players will now be undergoing recovery ahead of the English season with Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan at different stages of recuperation from elbow surgery. Alongside the injuries to Stuart Broad and Steven Finn in India, where both fast bowlers flew home before the end of the trip, England's resources have been tested.

"We all know in the dressing room that you are going to miss players at certain times through injury. That is what happens, in any professional sport. Touch wood, we can get into the summer with a fully-fit squad now. Bressy and Swanny are recovering well from their operations.

"Come the first Test against New Zealand, you want a fully-fit squad. That doesn't always happen, and when it doesn't you've got to have the strength in depth - that's why I think we're in quite a healthy position as an England squad, that we can call on very good players to come in.

Jonny Bairstow will replace Pietersen in the middle order and will have to battle against the modern problem of coming into a Test without any cricket behind him. Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, was respectful of the back-up England have in their squad but did not pretend that the loss of Pietersen wasn't significant.

They still have some good options, but they certainly aren't Kevin Pietersen
Brendon McCullum

"He's one of those who can take the game away from you pretty quickly so even though he wasn't at his best in this series he was still able to make an impact in the last Test," he said. "From their point of view they still have some good options, but they certainly aren't Kevin Pietersen."

For Pietersen, his injury brings an early end to a six-month period which also started with him out of the team but for very different reasons. He was "reintegrated" during the Test series in India, with significant success, not least the monumental 186 he scored in Mumbai, followed by an unremarkable one-day series there in January before being rested for the limited-overs matches in New Zealand.

Cook, who was a central figure in getting Pietersen back in the side following the problems of the summer, has been delighted with his contributions.

"That innings in Mumbai was a fantastic one at a very crucial time, and that shows his worth to the team. Not many people could play that innings, and that's why we need him in an English shirt as often as we can.

"It's great to have him back. I said at the beginning of the winter, in India, you want to be able to pick from your best squad. We managed to do that, and he's fitted in really well. It's just a shame that his winter has ended a little bit early with his knee."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    kps record is on par with the modern day greats...his flair for controversy and some audacious innings probably make him stand out...pure will always be all about spirit and loyalty will never be attributed to mercenaries...a desperate england forgives all!

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    @Munkeymomo add sachin too..i think you are naming players with names starting with "S"

  • Mark on March 21, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    @Rokingrishav: True for those two. I'd add Sangakarra, Steyn, Sehwag (despite recent form) and Shakib to the list of those who have been at the top of the tree in all three format.

  • gurinder on March 21, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    kp the " english " player is marvellous talent. sa wud never let him go if they knew how good a bloke he is. virat kohli though have better year all around along with amla if u look at runs scored in all 3 formats for past 2 years. virat has better odi record than anyone during this period. kp did well in 1 test in india but in rest of series he was bit quite, hope kp become a great of this game one day.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    Legends are proven by what they do at the back end of their careers ,not at the start , KP is great ,and that is fact but the most important thing for Pietersen is to stay healthy and keep himself involved in Test Cricket,where the men are seperated from the boys . Brilliant comment by Cloudmess too ! how West Indies beat this New Zealand team is beyond me ,they certainly gave England a run for their money thus far ,I hope it continues because the quality of New Zealand Cricket appears to be diminished,which I don't believe to be the case.

  • Dummy4 on March 21, 2013, 15:32 GMT

    It is time cricket and especially Test crickettakes a call. Across the world too many players are getting injured too often for comfort. The long term solution may lie in either sports medicine and training or significant reduction in workload by spaced out scheduling or a combination of both. Until that happens, if at all, we need a rethink. As in football and some other team sports full fledged substitution must be allowed. A squad of 15/16 must be allowed to use the extra 5/6 players to replace any of the starting 11. This is a patch solution but without an immediate rule change cricket, especially Test cricket, will not represent a contest between two teams consisting of their best 11 but only the 'available' 11. Cricinfo needs to start a debate on this proposal.

  • Charles on March 21, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    How an earth is Kohli ( fine player though he is ) getting comments about an article about Kevin Pieterson ??? Get fit for the Ashes and Champions trophy KP.

    I liked Cook's comments and he was very respectful of the Kiwis - going to be a great captain

  • Gavin on March 21, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Kohli test will come in SA later this year. We will see how he does there.

  • David on March 21, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    I think Brendon McCullum needs to jinx a few more England players with his reverse psychology sledging: Nick Compton? Grandson of Denis? He's already even better than Denis. Back to back hundreds, he's the new Bradman. We'll certainly all be expecting another hundred from him in Auckland. Jonathan Trott? Expect he'll score a big hundred, and won't get out early in the innings when he's vulnerable. He's the new Herbert Sutcliffe. Johnny Bairstow? Came in against SA last summer and flogged their bowlers around, played like Bradman etc Joe Root? So much promise. Has to surely make a 100. Surely. A 100 there for the taking. Only he can throw it away etc Matt Prior? No pressure, but he's better than Adam Gilchrist etc etc England's current team? Would give 1980s WI and 2000s Australia a run for their money. We're just hoping to big them up, and then ambush them for 150 all out on another seaming 1st day pitch.

  • Ameer Hamza on March 21, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    you are right,you can take virat and kp on same track,kp is true legend and he proves in test cricket a lot ,and test cricket shows the caliber of cricket.