There remain "issues to be resolved" before Kevin Pietersen can play for England again according to Alastair Cook, the new Test captain.
Cook has met with Pietersen and confirmed yesterday discussions between the player and senior England management are ongoing in Sri Lanka in an attempt to find a solution – but there is still ground to make up.
Cook, who will lead his first Test tour to India at the end of next month, described Pietersen's absence from the squad as "sad", but does not regard it necessarily as a full stop to his England career.
"I did have a meeting with Kev and I've been involved with [other] meetings as well," said Cook. "Clearly the issues haven't been resolved and that's why he hasn't been made available for selection at the moment. Time, hopefully, will be a healer and we will be able to move on."
Cook refused to be drawn on what the issues are. "That is private and I can't talk about it," he said. "For the best outcome possible we can't be talking about it. The meetings are still going on in Sri Lanka. When the issue gets resolved – if the issue gets resolved – hopefully, he can come back and play for England. At the moment that can't happen. We're trying to do it behind closed doors to get the best possible outcome."
Cook, who since his appointment has spoken with Andrew Strauss, his predecessor, about the Test job, accepts Pietersen's absence is a loss but pointed to the manner in which he first broke into the Test side as an example of the opportunity available to batting newcomers Joe Root and Nick Compton.
"It's a sad circumstance at the moment," said Cook. "He is a world-class player and he's not playing for England at this precise moment in time. He will be missed but it gives another person an opportunity.
"We're going on this tour to win. We've got to look forward as a side. We have 16 players. We have to get on that plane, look forward to that two months and not look back."
Cook scored a century on his debut as a last-minute replacement for the opening Test of the 2006 series in Nagpur after Marcus Trescothick flew home suffering from depression. "Tres came home from India in 2006 and he would certainly have been missed in that side," said Cook, who will go on a delayed honeymoon to Argentina before heading for India.
"Everyone was probably thinking 'who is this 21-year-old from Essex – he's never going to be as good as Tres.' And I wasn't but it gives another person an opportunity and they can do well. There's no reason why those guys can't fill the gap."
Pietersen is currently in Sri Lanka, working as a television pundit during the World Twenty20. David Collier, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Hugh Morris, managing director of the England team, are all present in Sri Lanka.
Pietersen was offered a four-month contract that would have included him attending the Test squad's pre-India tour training camp in Dubai towards the end of October.
It was designed to be the first step in repairing any damaged relations with other players, but no agreement was reached. Earlier this week there were suggestions the ECB had begun negotiations with Pietersen over a possible 12-month central contract.
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Big bash rivals ready to splash the cash for KP
Kevin Pietersen is a target for Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades, their chief executive, Stuart Coventry, has confirmed. Coventry is hoping to set up a meeting with Pietersen at the World Twenty20 to assess his availability for the Australian T20 league in light of the batsman's continued absence from the England squad.
Pietersen is working at the tournament as an analyst for ESPN Star Sports and Coventry, who is heading to Sri Lanka to scout players, says both his side and the Sydney Sixers are keen to talk to the 32-year-old.
"If we can get someone who stands up at the World Twenty20 that is our first priority but, now that Kevin Pietersen is back in the mix, there's no doubt we and the Sixers have been having some dialogue with his management," Coventry said. "I'd like to, but I think I would want to get an indication first about his availability before talking further.
"If he is available we'd love to grab him."