Pietersen set for England recall but reintegration will take time
Coach Andy Flower admits England have missed controversial batsman after T20 exit
KEVIN PIETERSEN is set to return to the England cricket set up this week after the team's limp exit from the World T20 tournament in Sri Lanka and the admission of coach, Andy Flower, that the side has been weaker without him.
The batsman is to be offered a new central contract and is expected to be included in the 16-man squad to tour India this autumn and winter after an appalling summer for English cricket.
While other domestic sports have had a wonderful time in 2012 it has been pretty dismal from a cricketing perspective. Rain disrupted much of the season as the side relinquished its Test crown to South Africa and then failed to defend its World T20 title. Off the field, the main talking point has been the behaviour of Pietersen, who retired from the one-day format and was then exiled from the Test team after sending insulting texts about his team-mates to the opposition during the series against South Africa.
Now, it seems he is on the way back. The Daily Telegraph reports that Pietersen and Giles Clarke, ECB chairman, will appear side by side at a press conference today where the batsman will apologise for his actions this summer. "[But] saying sorry will only be the start of his rehabilitation within the England dressing room," claims Derek Pringle.
Pietersen's status with team-mates and management will be different to what it was before his exile, says The Times. "Flower has been distinctly unimpressed with aspects of the player’s behaviour and refused to pretend that reintegration will be a speedy process."
His return to the dressing room "could be the start of another chapter in this most unsavoury episode rather than the end of the story," warns Paul Newman in the Daily Mail.
And Stephen Brenkley of The Independent concurs. "Anyone who thinks that will be the end of the matter neither knows the man nor the level of his recalcitrant behaviour in the past two months," he writes.
However, England are in a Catch-22 situation. "The problem for Flower and the rest of the management is this [T20] tournament has confirmed what they must have already known: that without Pietersen England are a far inferior batting side. But with him there is angst," says Vic Marks in The Guardian.