It is a nine-hour flight from Gatwick to St Kitt’s, during which time and for the next two months and more, Kevin Pietersen will “not be on England’s radar”, according to coach Peter Moores.
Moores and the team left for the West Indies today for a three-Test series where, with the return of captain Alastair Cook, they will hope to repair some of the reputational damage of a disastrous World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Pietersen, sacked from England’s Test and one-day set-ups, has joined Surrey, hoping to force his way back into the Test side, and has announced plans to begin his season against Oxford University in The Parks on 12 April.
Speaking at Gatwick Airport before departing for the West Indies, Moores said: “My focus is to support [Test captain] Alastair Cook as I always would and the 16 players on this tour.
“The frustration for me is that people whose dreams are being made by going on this tour aren’t being mentioned. They are not getting any air time and it’s frustrating. We’ve got some very, very good players. That’s very exciting.
“We’ve got some new players coming in and we’ve got Jonathan Trott coming back. We want to make sure that this side moulds quickly. We’ve got a couple of [warm-up] games and then a Test match series and we don’t need to go further than that.”
Moores’ frustrations were echoed by his captain, but Cook also refused to confirm his reluctance to see Pietersen return to the side. “Contrary to what a lot of you guys read in the media, I am a long way away from that decision-making,” Cook said. “It’s down to Paul, Tom and Colin,” he said, referring to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s managing director, Paul Downton, Colin Graves, the incoming chairman, and Tom Harrison, the chief executive officer.
“It’s not down to us. We’ve got 16 guys going to the West Indies who are desperate to start turning round English cricket from what’s happened over the last three months. We need to get back to winning ways and it’s about a brand of cricket and trying to win this series. It’s about 16 guys and the support staff. The ECB will have to deal with everything else. [Pietersen] is for the ECB hierarchy to deal with.”
Cook said he was feeling “refreshed”, having not gone to the World Cup in the wake of Moores’ shock decision to fire him, but he was focused on restoring some belief to the team, and delivering some results.
England were eliminated in the group stage of the tournament but Cook, 30, has challenged the team to replicate the form they showed in the Test series win over India last summer.
“Spending three months at home has been fantastic,” Cook said. “A lot has gone on since the last win against India at The Oval. Last summer we played two outstanding Test matches to come back from 1-0 down in the series.
“To say we can get back there straight away is a challenge but it’s up to the players and the leadership of me and Peter Moores to try and do that.”