Kevin Pietersen back in England squad for India Test tour
England keen to 'draw a line' under saga of the provocative text messages slagging off colleagues
KEVIN PIETERSEN will tour India with England this winter after the 32-year-old batsman was successfully "reintegrated" into the squad.
Pietersen was sensationally axed during the summer after allegations he had sent "provocative" text messages to opponents during England's Test series with South Africa. In the texts, it was alleged Pietersen was dismissive of England captain Andrew Strauss and other team-mates.
Pietersen was stood down from the side for the one-day series against South Africa and Strauss subsequently retired from the game - a decision, he insisted, that had nothing to do with Pietersen.
Though Pietersen apologised for his error of judgment in sending the texts, his return to the England fold has been a drawn-out process as the management sought assurances as to his commitment to English cricket.
Earlier in the week he met with the management, including coach Andy Flower and new Test captain Alastair Cook, and the upshot of the discussions is Pietersen's inclusion in the winter tour party.
"The meetings were constructive and cordial and all outstanding issues have been resolved," said Hugh Morris, the England team's managing director. "All the England players and management are now keen to draw a line under this matter and fully focus on the cricketing challenge that lies ahead in India."
England depart to Abu Dhabi at the end of next week for a short training camp before heading to India. Pietersen, who is currently in South Africa playing for the Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League, will link up with the squad in Abu Dhabi and could feature in the tour opener in Mumbai on 30 October.
Pietersen has been England's most prolific run scorer in the last decade and with a Test batting average of 49.48 his presence will be a considerable boost to the tourists' chances of winning the four-Test series.
Meanwhile one of Pietersen's former England team-mates will today begin the formal process of reinventing himself as a professional heavyweight boxer. According to the Daily Mail, Andrew Flintoff – 'Freddie' to his fans – will receive his licence from the British Boxing Board of Control.
The 34-year-old, who played the last of his 79 Tests in 2009, has been "put through stringent tests" by the Board, including a thorough medical and a demonstration bout. Satisfied that the former England captain, who had a long history of injury problems, is fit enough to enter the ring, the Board will officially sanction Flintoff's new career by granting him his licence.
The Mail says that Flintoff has shed two stone after ten weeks of intensive training and tips the scales at 15 ½ stone, still on the lean side for a fighter who stands 6ft 4in. It's believed Flintoff's promoters are looking to launch his boxing career with a bout on 30 November at the Manchester Arena against an as yet unnamed opponent. ·