England call up Pietersen for one-day series

Having had six months to contemplate the tough nature of their winter assignment England's selectors decided yesterday that they needed an extra player. They called up Kevin Pietersen to the one-day squad which will play seven one-day matches at the end of the Test series against South Africa.

Having had six months to contemplate the tough nature of their winter assignment England's selectors decided yesterday that they needed an extra player. They called up Kevin Pietersen to the one-day squad which will play seven one-day matches at the end of the Test series against South Africa.

This either represented fairly hopeless planning or something much more mysterious, and the conspiracy theory won the day. The favourite speculation is that Andrew Flintoff, the beating heart of England's one-day team, is actually suffering much more from his side strain than medical bulletins say and will fly home to recuperate before the onset of the limited overs matches.

Since Flintoff has been passed fit for this Test to bowl as well as bat (though he has not yet done any of the former and has so far done precious little of the latter) such a hypothesis may not hold much water. But the tone of the comments from David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, did little to discourage it.

"We feel that it's right to call Kevin Pietersen up to the squad for the seven one-day internationals following hard on the heels of an intensive Test series," he said. "Kevin had an encouraging start to his international career in Zimbabwe and we feel his inclusion will give the captain and coach another option if they think a different balance to the side is required." Such matters as balance could easily have been thought of when the team was being picked in September.

For Pietersen, the selection is an opportunity to fulfil at least part of his dream. He left his native South Africa in somewhat controversial circumstances four years ago to qualify for England, berating the quota system that operated in KwaZulu Natal and guaranteed places to black players. He has since declared lifelong and undying love for England and moved counties from Nottinghamshire to Hampshire. He made 104 runs in his three innings against Zimbabwe late last year.

Throughout his qualification period he had aspired to be picked for the tour of South Africa this winter, and was decidedly miffed to have been overlooked by the selectors. He is bound to be given a hot reception by his former compatriots. Shaun Pollock, the South Africa all-rounder, remembered playing with him in Durban. "He was mainly an off-spinner then who batted at nine or 10. He must have changed things." It promises to be fun.

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