Kevin Pietersen's return to the England team today will be accompanied by a cautionary message from the captain he is said to have betrayed. "He's one of the best players I've ever seen but I don't know what's going on behind the scenes and I just hope everything in the team environment's fine," said Andrew Strauss.
"If it is fine then he should come back in straight away, no problems. But I do think you should never just assume that everything is okay because in my experience if the team environment is not right it will come out at some point, usually under the greatest pressure."
Strauss was at the centre of the storm last year when Pietersen was dropped by England. Months of discord in the dressing room came to a head when it emerged Pietersen had sent text messages to South African players deriding Strauss. Weeks of negotiations followed, the content of which has never been revealed, but they concluded with Pietersen returning to the team for the tour of India. The England and Wales Cricket Board described it as a process of reintegration.
He then suffered a knee injury on the tour of New Zealand in March, returning to Surrey only last week when he made 177 not out against Yorkshire. Tonight he will play for England in the second Twenty20 match against New Zealand at The Oval.
In an interview with Darren Gough, broadcast on talkSPORT last night, which Pietersen has insisted will be his only one of the summer, he said: "You go through rocky patches in every walk of life – business, marriage, as a kid, through your teenage years. Unfortunately it was quite a famous fall out because of what happened but, no, everything's absolutely fantastic, we showed that in India the way we got on and played well and beat India."