Pietersen risking selectors' wrath

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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen may receive a telephone call from an England selector during the festive season but they are unlikely to be enquiring about the state of the rib injury which resulted in him returning home from Pakistan after the second one-dayer. Pietersen used his newspaper column to heap praise on Darren Gough, the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing champion, and suggested that he should be selected for next year's tour of India.

On Monday his views reached Rawalpindi, the venue where England will end their disappointing tour of Pakistan this morning when they play the fifth one-day match. Duncan Fletcher, the coach, is believed to be less than impressed. England's selectors do not like players telling them who to pick and Michael Vaughan had his knuckles rapped after the 2004 tour of West Indies, when he said that Geraint Jones would get a decent run in the team.

Fletcher also likes his players to keep issues "in-house" and hates things being leaked to the media.

Gough and Pietersen became close friends during last winter's one-day series in South Africa. Pietersen inferred that if the England selectors do not pick Gough it will be because of non-cricketing matters.

"If he [Gough] is left out I hope it is for the right reasons, that the selectors believe they have the bowlers who can do a better job," said Pietersen.

"It is not my job to pick the team but I would love to have him back. He would bring so much more than just his bowling and vast experience, and he looks pretty fit after all that dancing.

"We would much rather have had him in Pakistan bowling to contain their free-hitting batsmen. Off the field too he would have been a welcome addition, you need laughter and personalities at the end of a tough tour."

It is hard to imagine the England players still in Pakistan will be delighted with Pietersen's views. They are not particularly complimentary from a cricket or a character angle.

Those players may find the final match against Pakistan today slightly less taxing as the captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, and the fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami will be rested to give youngsters a run.

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