Cook wants Pietersen in 2015 team
Kevin Pietersen can be an integral part of England’s 2015 World Cup side, according to one-day captain Alastair Cook.
Pietersen will be 35 at the next 50-over showpiece, but Cook believes the batsman’s record in Australia – tournament co-hosts with New Zealand – make him crucial to England’s planning.
With the likes of Graeme Swann, who will be 36 when the competition begins, England have several stars who will be in the twilight of their careers if they are still playing in 2015.
However, Cook wants them available alongside promising youngsters in the tour party leaving for India today such as Jonathan Bairstow, Scott Borthwick and Stuart Meaker.
“It’s all about trying to build towards the 2015 World Cup but people like KP, people like Swanny I can see having a huge impact in 2015,” Cook said. “Yes, we're going to have to manage them well. They’re fantastic players (who) I will want in my side.
“And those youngsters, it’s a very exciting time, especially arriving today to go on tour for the first time. You see the excitement in their faces and it’s great to have that enthusiasm around. They’ll be desperate to play but they’ve also got to earn the right to play.”
With Pietersen’s longevity in mind, he was rested during last month’s NatWest Series against India, which England won 3-0.
Likewise, paceman James Anderson has been excused from this trip, which features five one-day internationals and one Twenty20.
Cook is in no doubt both decisions are correct. “We talk about making sure that we look after players and we do play a lot of cricket. There was a slight wrist injury as well,” he added of Pietersen.
“These things you have to take into consideration and I’m sure he would have liked to play that series. A bit like Jimmy now, I see Kevin as a huge part of this one-days side, especially looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup. He’s had huge success in Australia.”
That success has principally come in the Test arena and Pietersen’s ODI returns have dipped in the past three years. Indeed, his last ODI hundred came in November 2008 on England’s previous tour of India.
However, Pietersen was back to his best in the npower Tests versus India this summer, scoring 202 not out at Lord’s and 175 at the Kia Oval.
“He’s had a tough 12-18 months with his form,” Cook said. “This happens when you spend a huge amount of time on top of the game. It’s very hard to keep your standards high.
“I think he still averages very high 40s in Test cricket so it’s amazing we’re talking about dropping him when he’s still a fantastic performer.
“His stats in the last couple of years in one-day cricket haven’t been as good as they were in the first part of his career and part of our job as the England management is to try and get him back to playing there because a KP averaging 50 at a strike-rate of over 100, like he was in the first part of his career, is a huge element of the England side."
Cook added: “Like everyone, you always have to perform to stay in an England shirt.
“Just like Kevin has to, the bowlers have to, the whole team have to because you can see the from the players not coming on this tour what a great competition there is for places.
"That’s a very encouraging sign as selectors and the overall England picture. It keeps us in good shape.”