Kevin Pietersen's recent prevarications over international one-day cricket have seen him play various roles in the past two years but England may just have found one that will keep him motivated until the next World Cup - mentoring the team's new generation of players.
If Pietersen as master is not a role alien to him, having proteges probably is, at least until he was included in this experimental side to play Australia. By resting five senior players and picking youngsters in their place, England are hoping to speculate in order to accumulate, a process Pietersen is helping to facilitate further in the third NatWest Series match against Australia at Edgbaston today (Wednesday).
"I've played a lot of cricket with Kev and he's one of the best players in the world," Ashley Giles, England's one-day coach, said. "With young players around he's been an excellent example to them.
He gets a bad rap for some of the stuff he says and does, but for me in this group he has been great with these young guys. "He is extremely professional still. His body is probably catching up with him a bit as it does to all of us when you get older, but he's been fantastic in our environment."
Pietersen was not involved in the Twenty20s against Australia or the one-day international against Ireland, so there was the risk that his presence might overwhelm the new boys, but that has not been the case.
Pietersen has also returned to the opening role that had fallen, during his brief retirement from one-day cricket last year, to Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, both of whom made a success of it. Alpha males, even those in touch with their caring sharing side, tend to get what they want and -Pietersen, whose last three innings as opener read 111, 130 and 60, will surely open with Cook should he demand it.
"I just told him he was opening but that's where he prefers to bat," Giles said. "He clearly enjoys opening, he's scored heavily in his last three innings. We have got options in that position with Cook and Bell, which makes it tough, but we've got some very fine players in that top five."
They have, too, if all are selected and fit, but with Cook, Bell, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann all rested, England have been criticised, not only for picking a weakened squad for the series but a team that looked a proper bowler short following Australia's pounding 88-run win at Old Trafford.
"We don't take losing games lightly," Giles said. "It is not about giving games away and it is not about robbing the public of the right to watch our best players.
It is tough because you want to win every game, but I'm not planning on being here just for the next couple of months, so in that respect I'm getting to look at some young players coming through.
"All we ask for is a bit of understanding about what we're trying to do. It is not just about winning the next game. Out strategic objective at the moment is to win the second of back-to-back Ashes, so we had to rest three of our senior bowlers. But once we get into the new year our focus will move to the 2015 World Cup."
Giles also defended his team selection which had two all-rounders, Ravi Bopara and Ben Stokes, bowling 20 of the 50 overs, despite the pair's onus on economy rather than enterprise. "I've heard a lot about the balance of the side," Giles said.
"Ben is -playing as a third seamer and is an improving bowler with good skills who can bowl 84?mph and upwards. Otherwise the balance is what we played in the Champions Trophy when we were very successful."
Stokes should bat at seven with another bowler, Chris Jordan, being picked in place of a batsman to add potential bite to the middle part of the innings where England's failure to take a wicket for 22 overs allowed Michael Clarke and George Bailey to dominate without really ever being pressured.
By contrast, Australia's attack certainly possessed some teeth with a reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson bowling at 93?mph. On the last Ashes tour, Johnson was ridiculed by English crowds to the point where it appeared to affect his confidence.
The boo-boys have not gone away but according to his team-mate, Adam Voges, Johnson has acquired an extra skin to cope. "The crowd don't miss out when it comes to Mitch do they?" Voges said. "But I actually think he relishes it. He's been outstanding. When you're bowling at 90 mph plus and swinging the ball you are a challenge for any batsman no matter who you are."
England: EJG Morgan (capt), MA Carberry, KP Pietersen, IJL Trott, JE Root, RS Bopara, J Buttler (wk), BA Stokes, JC Tredwell, ST Finn, WB Rankin. Australia (probable team) MJ Clarke (capt), AJ Finch, SE Marsh, SR Watson, GJ Bailey, AC Voges, MS Wade (wk), JP Faulkner, MG Johnson, CJ McKay, F Ahmed.