England realise they can't live without Pietersen


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The Independent Online

England finally answered the question about their intentions for Kevin Pietersen's one-day career yesterday by resurrecting it. He was named in the squad of 15 players which will leave next Monday for a series of five one-day matches in India.

Pietersen did not play either in the recent home series against India, or the Twenty20 matches against West Indies. There had been suggestions that he would not feature in any England team again until next year and that his 50-over career was at an end.

The selectors had always insisted that, despite his indifferent one-day international form, he was merely being rested. Conspiracy theories abound habitually about Pietersen simply because he is Pietersen, and while it seems probable that there was more to his recent omission than met the well-trained eye, the logical conclusion was that the selectors would be mad to continue overlooking him. Their recent record shows that they are models of cool sanity.

Perhaps Pietersen's mild wrist injury gave them a chance to make a point. There was no doubt that Pietersen did himself no favours when he left the World Cup earlier this year, protesting that the pain made it impossible for him to continue although the England medical staff stated that it was manageable.

In the absence of Eoin Morgan, the only other true dasher in the side, England could hardly afford to continue making a point, even had they wished to. But it would be welcome if Pietersen could rediscover his touch. It is not that he has been without a one-day hundred since late 2008 because they remain pretty rare, it is more that he has scored only two fifties in his 30 innings since then at an average of 22.87. But all the indications are that he is batting with freedom and purpose again.

Of the younger brigade only Jonathan Bairstow has been included. Ben Stokes has been deliberately left out to ensure his dislocated finger has time to mend fully.

The current plethora of seam bowlers has persuaded the selectors that they can afford to rest Jimmy Anderson. With Stuart Broad out because of a shoulder injury, it demonstrates a determination to ensure that there are plenty of options by the next World Cup.

The latest beneficiary of this policy is the Surrey fast bowler Stuart Meaker, who impressed for England Lions last season. He is the only uncapped player in the squad and one of five who were born in South Africa.

While Meaker's raw speed makes him an exciting prospect, the selection of the Durham leg-spinner Scott Borthwick is filled with pregnant expectation. When Borthwick took his first international wicket on Sunday night at The Oval with a beautifully flighted googly there was hardly a dry eye among spectators of a certain vintage.

Broad may join the squad if his shoulder injury clears up in time. Jos Buttler and Alex Hales will fly out for the sole Twenty20 match at the end of the tour which would seem to guarantee their places.