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You need your best men so Kevin Pietersen must go to India

Thursday, 4 October 2012 - 1:24pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Pietersen's relations with his team-mates can never be the same but side can still click as a unit on pitch.

The word reintegration is something I never thought I would hear used around the England team but this is a priceless opportunity for Kevin Pietersen to resurrect his international career.

He has two choices now. He either takes the lead himself and improves his behaviour or he carries on as before and this whole gruelling process will have been a waste of time.

I don't want to see any false, showy signs of affection from him. The back slaps and high fives on the field will mean nothing. What really matters is how he behaves in the dressing room and the respect he shows some of his team-mates because that has been missing recently.

It starts with a speech to the squad, or privately with each player in turn, to say sorry. He has to accept he has made mistakes. But there are two sides to the story and the other players also need to apologise and admit some of them have to change a bit as well. They could have acted differently, handled Kevin a bit more sympathetically and shown him some respect.

He has been pretty easy to manage in the past. He needs an arm around the shoulder and to be made to feel important. It is not difficult but that was the old Kevin Pietersen. Not the one we have heard about these last few months. It has been a hard situation but he can change.

I hear he has been a father figure to the younger players at Surrey. He could do that for England. What a great way to show Andy Flower he is serious. It would help regain the trust of the senior players who have lost faith in what he says. They saw through the YouTube interview, emails, tweets and PR teams. That is where he lost respect. He can regain it but in reality it will never be the same again. It is just a working relationship now. They will never all be mates. But that doesn't matter as long as they respect each other. Many teams work with relationships that are not happy off the field but they click on the pitch as a unit.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been criticised but it has handled this pretty well.

A four-month deal is the right way forward. It knocks Kevin down a peg or two. He will have wanted 12 months like everyone else but a shorter deal shows he still has work to do.

I hope he realises what is at stake. If he knuckles down and plays for another three years he could walk away with records unmatched by any other England player. He could win five Ashes series, a Twenty20 World Cup, score 10,000 Test runs and retire with an average of 50 in all formats. What a brilliant career. He would be the best England batsman who has ever lived.

The penny may have dropped over the last couple of weeks. He will have realised in Sri Lanka how much it hurts not playing in a major tournament for England when you are fit and healthy.

This has been a tough few weeks for Flower. I trust his decision making and everything he does is with the good of the team in mind.

Hugh Morris is the same. They are respectful people with good morals.

But this has been testing because KP went against everything Andy put in place. That is disrespectful to someone like Andy who cares passionately about the England team. But Andy knows Kevin deserves a second chance. He will want KP the player back but also KP the better bloke. That is what all the discussion with Andy will have been about.

Andy will have talked with the ECB over the legal issues but ultimately he will be saying, 'That is not my worry. My concern is England and I can't have someone disrupting the team'. He needs a senior player to lead by example and create energy. In recent months KP has been draining energy from the team.

For Andy this kind of thing tires you out. You think, 'Do I need this?' That worries me, but Andy is a tough cookie and he will not want to go out on this note. He will stay around and sort out this situation. He will have been frustrated by the legals and in times like this you just want to sack someone who has behaved like KP. But then you take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Even so, Pietersen's promise to commit in all forms of cricket until 2015 has to be genuine. We don't want him going off to the IPL again and changing his mind. That would be the end. And anyway, the Indian Premier League can wait. Kevin is loved in India and earned the right to make a lot of money out there one day. If he plays for England until 2015 he will still have plenty of time to go to make a lot of money. That gives him three years to get the British public back on his side.

I would not hesitate in taking Kevin to India. He has to go. It is a tough tour and you need your best players. Both sides have said it is time to look forward and most England fans just want to see the best player scoring runs and the team winning Test series. After all, that is something that has been in short supply this year.

 


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