Andy Flower does not envisage any future problems with Kevin Pietersen after confirming the controversial batsman will complete his reintegration process by turning out for England in their first warm-up match against India A in Mumbai today.
Pietersen will make his first appearance in England colours since August at the Brabourne Stadium after being dropped for sending “provocative” BBM messages to some South Africa players. He was originally omitted from the 16-man squad to tour India as the fallout from the saga rumbled on but was recalled following a series of successful meetings with new Test captain Alastair Cook, Flower and other senior figures.
“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 so I’m confident we’ll work together well from now on,” Flower said in a press conference yesterday. “He’s down to play and he’ll bat at four tomorrow.”
Pietersen, who has 88 Test caps to his name, signed a new central contract, initially for four months, but Flower can not see any reason why that would not be lengthened. “I don’t envisage a problem,” he said. “I think we can work well together in the future.”
Cook expressed his delight at welcoming Pietersen back into the international fold and is convinced the Surrey batsman’s experience of sub-Continental conditions will help England immensely. “It’s great to have world-class players in my team and if we want to play the standard of cricket we know we are capable of, we’ve got to have our best players,” he said. “He’s played a lot in the sub-Continent as well as the IPL. That experience is invaluable for us if we’re going to get used to these conditions as quickly as we can.”
Pietersen retaining his number four spot in the batting line-up would suggest England are unlikely to move Jonathan Trott to open alongside Cook following Andrew Strauss’ retirement. That would mean either Yorkshire’s Joe Root or Somerset’s Nick Compton will be given the chance to make the role their own.