Squad delay gives KP hope
Kevin Pietersen could resume his England career during the tour of India after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed that Thursday’s planned squad announcement had been put back until Tuesday at the earliest.
Pietersen, England’s most talented batsman, remains in international exile following a series of flare-ups that led to him being dropped following the drawn second test with South Africa at Headingley last month.
He’s not in the England squad that will defend their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka later this month, despite being man of the tournament when the team won in the Caribbean two years ago, and there had been speculation he would also be omitted from the four-test tour of India starting in November.
But he appears to have been handed a lifeline after an ECB spokeswoman told AFP that the selectors were not yet in a position to name a tour party.
One knock-on issue for the ECB is that whatever they decide with regards to Pietersen will have consequences for the make-up of their Lions and Academy squads and could determine which players they ask to remain on standby in case of possible injury.
Although Pietersen made a brilliant, match-saving, 149 against his native South Africa, he was axed after it was revealed he’d sent “provocative texts” to opposition players, some of which were allegedly critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss.
England coach Andy Flower said there were “certain issues of trust and mutual respect” that needed to be resolved between Pietersen and the England hierarchy.
And it is clear from the comments of some members of the England team that Pietersen’s relationships within the dressing room are also in need of repair.
But with Strauss having since retired — a decision he insists was not influenced by the fall-out from the Pietersen row — and England needing to find an opener to replace him alongside new captain Alastair Cook, the top order could struggle if Pietersen’s absence continues heading into an Ashes year.
For his part the 32-year-old Pietersen, whose average of nearly 50 in tests means he is on the verge of joining the game’s greatest batsmen, is understood to be unhappy at what he believes is the involvement of several England team-mates in a mocking fake Twitter account, KP Genius, that has since been closed down.