Kevin Pietersen’s “reintegration” as an England player may still be a work in progress, but his team-mates are convinced they have taken a major step forward together in Mumbai.
In the scorebook, Pietersen’s 23 towards an England total of 426 all out at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in the stalemate against India A at the start of their Test tour, was no more than an acceptable statistic.
Others made more substantial contributions, notably captain Alastair Cook (119) and Samit Patel (104).
But, as England assessed the pros and cons of their first outing on what is sure to be a tough tour, it fell to James Anderson to point out the advance made with “project Pietersen”.
Fast bowler Anderson was portrayed in many quarters, after Pietersen’s summer of discontent, as one of the senior players with whom the mercurial batsman needed to make his peace.
First slip Anderson, who spent significant time fielding in close proximity to his returning team-mate at gully, echoed the observation of his fellow seamer Tim Bresnan – that Pietersen’s first match back, since being dropped for the Lord’s Test and the subsequent delay in the award of his central contract, amounted to “business as usual”.
“All the stuff that’s gone on, it’s all well and good saying ‘we’re going to draw a line under it’,” said Anderson.
“But I think that’s actually happened, and it just seems to be back to normal in the dressing room and on the field.”
Pietersen could do with a few more runs to feel entirely at home again, in two remaining matches before the first Test in Ahmedabad.
But Patel’s confidence is bolstered already, and there is good reason to assume he is being pencilled in to bat at number six and act as a second spin option against India.
“I thought he was outstanding in this game, showed great temperament and just looked calm and controlled,” said Anderson.
“He played at his own tempo – Cooky at the other end, playing at his, which is very different to Samit’s – and I thought they complemented each other very well.
“He’s a very good all-round player. He plays spin very well. He was very controlled and composed out there and that’s what you need in these conditions.
“Often the crowd can be noisy out here, and there are a lot of distractions and pressure created by men around the bat. That’s what you have to overcome.”
Cook, too, gave a perfect demonstration of his most important attributes – determination and concentration – batting almost throughout yesterday and into today.
“It’s to be expected, really. That’s the way he is, very determined,” said Anderson. “He wants to lead by example, and he showed exactly that.”