Andy Flower does not envisage any future problems with Kevin Pietersen after confirming the controversial batsman will complete his reintegration process by turning out for England in their first warm-up match against India A in Mumbai today.
Pietersen will make his first appearance in England colours since August at the Brabourne Stadium after being dropped for sending “provocative” text messages to some South Africa players.
He was originally omitted from the 16-man squad to tour India as the fallout from the saga failed to disperse but was recalled following a series of successful meetings with new Test captain Alastair Cook, Flower and other senior figures.
“Whatever label you want to put on it, Kevin is coming back into the team after a few problems that we had in our side so I’m confident we’ll work together well from now on,” Flower said.
“He’s down to play and he’ll bat at No 4 (today).”
After being stood down for the third Test against South Africa in August, the 32-year-old reversed his decision to retire from the limited-overs internationals but was nevertheless overlooked for the World Twenty20 before efforts were made to resolve the matter.
Pietersen, who has 88 Test caps to his name, apologised for his conduct and signed a new central contract, initially for four months, but Flower cannot see any reason why that would not be lengthened.
“I haven’t thought much about the extension of his contract,” he said. “We are focusing on playing well in India.
“I don’t envisage a problem. I think we can work very well together in the future and we’ve already started that process.
“We’ve had some great success and some great times over the last few years and I don’t see a problem in the future.”
Cook expressed his delight at welcoming Pietersen back into the international fold and is convinced the Surrey batsman’s experience of sub-Continental conditions – with stints in the Indian Premier League – will help England immensely.
“As I’ve always said, it’s great to have world-class players in my team and if we want to play the standard of cricket we know we are capable of, we’ve got to have our best players,” said the 27-year-old.
“He’s played a huge amount of cricket now, a lot in the sub-Continent as well as the IPL.
“That experience is invaluable for us if we’re going to get used to these conditions as quickly as we can.”
Pietersen retaining his No 4 spot in the batting line-up would suggest England are unlikely to move Jonathan Trott to open alongside Cook following Andrew Strauss’s retirement.
That would mean either Yorkshire’s Joe Root or Somerset’s Nick Compton will be given the chance to make the role their own.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone else to come and open the batting for England,” added Cook, who won his first Test cap against India in Nagpur, where he made a century in the second innings.
“I made my debut six and a half years ago in India, it’s a great place to open the batting.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone to stick their hands up and make that opening space theirs and there’s no better place to bat than opening for England.”
The four-Test series, which gets under way in Ahmedabad on November 15, is certain to challenge England’s supposed weakness against spin bowling after their batsmen’s much-maligned efforts against Pakistan – and to some extent Sri Lanka – last winter.
Flower admitted it was a topic of conversation at their recent training camp in Dubai but the Zimbabwean refused to over-emphasise the effect India’s frontline spin duo – Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha – may have.
“Yeah there was a focus on it, of course,” Flower added. “They’ll have quality seamers as well and seamers can still take wickets in these conditions so that was part of our focus.
“But we’re aware of the challenges ahead of us and we’re looking forward to them.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday confirmed Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad has been appointed England’s vice-captain for the Test tour of India.