After a bitter and all-too-public debacle, Kevin Pietersen will this week hold a ‘re-integration’ meeting with the national set-up in time for this winter’s tour of India.
The South African-born batsman has committed himself to the England cause, saying “Playing cricket for England is the pinnacle
of any career and I want an opportunity to do that again as soon as possible.” It has been a torrid five or so months. The issues began in May when Pietersen announced his retirement from England duty in both limited-overs formats, due mainly to not being given the time off he desired.
Controversy has come to be expected of the man who resigned the England captaincy after just three tests due to a disagreement with coach Peter Moores in 2009. His relationship with the England and Wales Cricket Board has been fraught ever since. The current situation escalated during August’s series against South Africa.
After hitting a glorious 149 in the second test, Pietersen suggested that the final test of the series could be his last. This was followed by the now infamous texts sent by him to members of the South African team, allegedly criticising Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. Despite apologising and committing his future to England, Pietersen was dropped for the third test, and left out of both England’s squad for the Twenty20 World Cup and for the tour of India.
After spending two months as an international outcast, contemplating his sins, the way has been paved for Pietersen’s return. Strauss has retired, replaced as captain by Alastair Cook but has said he has no problem with Pietersen’s recall. The former captain has put forward the view that words of apology from Pietersen are not what is important. His reconciliation will be achieved by going to India and scoring runs.
It is never easy to play in the conditions of the subcontinent and the likes of Graeme Swann and James Anderson have voiced their support for Pietersen’s return to the fold. Pietersen will get the carefully rehearsed public and private apologies out of the way, but then must prove he deserves this second chance.
He is a player who thrives under the spotlight when the pressure is on. Let’s just hope the man who burst onto the scene against the Australians in 2005 can produce the fireworks he is capable of.