Talks continue to be held as England search for answer to Pietersen issue

Jonathan Bairstow of England bats during a nets session in Colombo
Jonathan Bairstow of England bats during a nets session in Colombo
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Alastair Cook revealed last night that senior England officials have been in Sri Lanka holding talks with exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen over his international future.

Pietersen was dropped for England’s last Test against South Africa over a text message dispute and he has been omitted from the squad for November’s tour of India.

Speaking for the first time on the subject as Test captain, Cook confirmed the issues between Pietersen and the England team are still unresolved.

But Cook is hopeful of a solution that will see Pietersen return to the England fold.

England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier and cricket managing director Hugh Morris have been in Sri Lanka, where Pietersen is working as a television pundit for the Twenty20 World Cup.

“I did have a meeting with Kev and I have been involved in meetings. Clearly the issues haven’t been resolved and that is why he is not available for selection at the moment,” said Cook. “Time hopefully will be a healer and we will be able to move on.

“The issues will still have to be resolved before Kevin plays for England again. At this present time the issues haven’t been resolved and he can’t be selected.

“Meetings are still going on in Sri Lanka at the moment. David Collier and Hugh Morris are out there as well. If the issues can be resolved, Kevin has said he is available for selection – but at the moment that can’t happen.”

Cook conceded England’s hopes of winning the four-Test series in India have been hit by Pietersen’s absence.

“That is a given,” said Cook.

“Kevin has proved in all conditions around the world that he is a world-class player. His record suggests that in all forms of the game.

“It is a sad circumstance. Clearly he is a world-class player and he is not playing for England at this precise moment in time.

“He will be missed, but it gives opportunities to other players and they can do well. These guys can’t fill the gap there.”

The uncapped duo of Nick Compton, who averaged 99 for Somerset this summer, and Yorkshire’s Joe Root were called up to fill the void left by Pietersen’s absence and Andrew Strauss’s retirement.

Both have significant shoes to fill, but Cook was in the same boat six years ago when he was called out to India as a late replacement.

“I haven’t seen too much of Joe Root play,” said Cook.“But I’ve heard glowing reports and everyone talks about his temperament – that’s one thing you definitely need as an international cricketer.”