Kevin Pietersen is still the butt of our jokes, says Graeme Swann


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The Independent Online

Graeme Swann was last night at pains to stress that Kevin Pietersen is still the butt of his fair share of jokes in the England dressing room and that the batsman's "reintegration" process is going well.

The England spinner was depicted in many quarters as one of those with whom Pietersen needed to make his peace before belatedly signing a new central contract and then being added to the squad for this tour. "Kevin's reintegration has been a seamless process," Swann said, "and it needed to happen. Everyone was wondering how it would go and whether it would be as easy as it has been.

"In the changing room, no one is safe from the humour that flies around – and he's the butt of as many jokes as Cooky [Alastair Cook]," added Swann. "He takes it fine. It's been great.

"A lot of credit has to be given to Kevin for the way he has come in. The dressing room is a very happy place this week. That's what we need to be; if we are going to have a chance of beating India over here."

As for Swann's own well-being, he knows he will have to deal with match-winning expectations in these conditions but also be patient at times too. "There's always pressure on the spinner when you play in India, because people assume in the subcontinent all the wickets will be big turners," he said.

"You've just got to deal with that in your own way, because we know that a lot of the wickets over here are exceptional batting surfaces – at least to start, and then turn later.

"Often in the first innings you have to take a more defensive role and support the seamers and then later on, if there is turn and bounce, you come into your own."

He is hoping for a happy return to the country where, after several years outside the England reckoning, he marked his debut with two wickets in his first over. Since that entrance in Chennai, he has rarely looked back – and is now just one short of the great Jim Laker's career tally of 193 Test wickets, the most by any England off-spinner.

Stuart Broad was set to captain England for the first time since his elevation as Cook's Test deputy in England's second warm-up match which gets under way this morning. Cook is being rested as the other batsmen are given a chance for time in the middle.