Critics hail Alastair Cook's bold call to bring Pietersen back

Star batsman's return to England fold surprised many observers – but Cook has shown he's a clever captain

LAST UPDATED AT 10:18 ON Wed 28 Nov 2012

ALASTAIR COOK has been widely praised for his brave but controversial decision to allow batsman Kevin Pietersen back into the England dressing room following the Test victory in Mumbai.

Many commentators were "underwhelmed" when the new England captain allowed the South African-born Pietersen back into the national side after he was dropped for sending derogatory texts about team-mates to their South African opponents during the Headingley Test, says James Lawton in The Independent.

But after Pietersen's stunning 186-run knock set up victory in the second Test in India, "all the heart-searching has been belted for a monumental six," says Lawton.

The England captain's decision was smart and not without self-interest because Cook realised that "Pietersen, for all his foibles, was just too good to cast permanently into the wilderness," writes Lawton. His attitude to the anti-Pietersen brigade could be summarised easily enough: "You take the moral high road, and I'll live with the best batsman in the world."

Australian spin great Shane Warne says Pietersen is lucky to have Cook as his captain. Cook's attitude that Pietersen is the best and England need him, "sends a message to the media, all the players and KP: this is a new captain, a new regime and let's start all over again with a clean slate", writes Warne in The Daily Telegraph.

Warne says Pietersen "needs to be made to feel important" if he is to play at the top of his game and Cook has achieved that by bringing him back into the team against the advice of those who believe cricket is first and foremost a team game and Pietersen's transgressions should not be forgiven.

"Over the next couple of years the Cook and KP partnership will be crucial," says Warne. The South African has still to earn the respect of some of his team-mates, but "time can be a good healer".

Warne is already looking forward to the Ashes which he now sees as a clash between the best two captains in the world – Cook and Australia's Michael Clarke.

Writing in The Times, Mike Atherton focuses not on England's star performer, but on a player he sees as an under-performer - vice-captain and fast bowler Stuart Broad. He may be dropped for the Third Test in Calcutta, says Atherton, because he played an "anonymous" game in Mumbai and England's other fast bowler, Steven Finn, appears to have overcome a thigh injury.

"Never change a winning side' is a maxim that could be altered to 'Change a winning side if you can make it better'," writes Atherton. · 

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