KEVIN Pietersen is not “on the radar” for a Test recall, according to England coach Peter Moores.
Moores insisted England must focus on their three-Test battle in the West Indies, as the squad prepared to jet out to the Caribbean from Gatwick Airport yesterday.
“It’s not about me getting personal, it’s about the focus on the England team”Peter Moores
England cricket’s new chairman Colin Graves has refused to rule out a Test return for Pietersen, who has been frozen out of the national set-up for more than a year. Moores refused to consider the South Africa-born batsman’s credentials ahead of the West Indies tour, however, despite Pietersen signing a new deal with Surrey in order to prove himself as a run-scorer at county level once more.
“For me Kevin’s not on this trip, so I don’t need to focus on Kevin at all,” said Moores. “My focus is to support Alastair (Cook) as I always would and the 16 players on this tour.
“At the end of that summer (last year) we’d gone through a tough summer, and started to play the sort of attacking cricket people like, and we like. That’s our focus at the moment.
“From my point of view Kevin isn’t on the radar. So he can’t be in my or Cooky’s focus at all.”
Moores revealed “frustration” that the speculation around Pietersen could continue to dominate the agenda, overshadowing debut Test calls for the likes of Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth.
Moores said he would leave any long-term decisions on Pietersen’s future to England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Graves – a stance backed by skipper Alastair Cook.
“That’s not my decision: I’ve got enough decisions to make,” said Moores, on Pietersen’s future. “It’s not about me getting personal, it’s about the focus on the England team. The frustration for me is that people whose dreams are being made by going on this tour aren’t being mentioned.
“They are not getting any air time and it’s frustrating. We’ve got some very, very good players. That’s very exciting. I understand Kevin’s a huge subject, but I don’t think we can be drawn into that. We’ve got to be completely focused on what’s ahead of us.”
England captain Cook reiterated Moores’ position on Pietersen, attempting to shift the focus on to Yorkshire star Lyth’s call-up.
“I was with Adam (Lyth) when he got his phone call in Dubai, and it was such a refreshing thing to see,” said Cook. “He was in tears talking to his mum, a gritty Yorkshireman. To be standing in the airport in his England suit for the first time, he’ll remember this forever.
“We’ve got our first team meeting in half an hour and that’s what we’ll want to talk about. To be honest with you, contrary to a lot of what guys read in the media, I’m a long way from that decision (about a potential recall for Pietersen).
“We’ve got these 16 guys going to the West Indies who are desperate to turn around England cricket. We need to get back to winning ways, and that’s all these 16 guys and support staff are focused on.”
Moores brushed off any lingering problems between himself and Cook, after the Test captain had bemoaned being dropped for the one-day World Cup. “We can look back at everything and me and Cooky have spoken a lot all the way through,” said Moores.
“Alastair was disappointed not to be involved but we’ve got to look forward now.
“There’s a lot of noise and emotion around English cricket, that’s understandable, but we’ve got 16 players here, to go to the West Indies to fight to win a Test series.”
Graves’ arrival has sparked a regime change at the top of the ECB, leading to uncertainty surrounding Moores’ long-term future.
Moores himself has rejected the suggestion he must lead England to a series victory to keep hold of his job. “It doesn’t work like that,” said Moores when asked if he must win the series to secure his employment.
“We all know we’re in a results business. I’m just focusing on what’s in front of us.
“From my point of view it’s not about the coach, it’s about the players, it’s about winning. We’ve got a very committed set of players
“I’m going no further: we’ve got five weeks, three Tests. If we play really well we’ll gain momentum into a big summer (featuring a home Ashes series). The focus has to be playing the right sort of cricket.”
Moeen Ali is planning to join England for the latter stages of the West Indies tour, as his side injury continues to improve. The off-spinning all-rounder hurt himself during England’s failed World Cup campaign, and was therefore not available when the selectors chose the Caribbean squad.
They nonetheless left open from the outset the possibility of Moeen joining up later in the month-long trip, for which James Tredwell and the uncapped Adil Rashid are instead the initial frontline spin options.
Moeen revealed he expects to be fit again in time for Worcestershire’s first County Championship match at home to title-holders Yorkshire on 12 April. He said: “I’m hoping to play that game against Yorkshire, prove my fitness and fly immediately afterwards.”
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