Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Pietersen returns to fold for Test series in India

AFP, LONDON

Kevin Pietersen plays a shot for the Delhi Daredevils during their Twenty20 match against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Centurion, South Africa, last Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Kevin Pietersen returned to the England team for the upcoming tour of India on Thursday, following his exile for sending provocative texts to opposition players, and admitted he was overjoyed to be back.

The decision came after the star batsman met with England coach Andy Flower, Test captain Alastair Cook and other senior players and managers this week to finalize his reintegration into the side.

The batsman was cast into international exile in August after sending text messages to South Africa players that contained criticism of then-England captain Andrew Strauss during the Test series.

The 32-year-old was dropped for the final Test and missed the One-Day series against South Africa and the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, while Strauss retired from all forms of cricket.

South Africa-born Pietersen has since apologized for his behavior and signed a new central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after agreeing to enter a “re-integration” process.

“BOOOOOOOOM!! The happiest days of my career have been playing cricket for ENG. Long may that continue! Thanks everyone for your kind words,” Pietersen tweeted on Thursday.

It was claimed that Flower and several of England’s senior players were initially against Pietersen returning, but that hardline stance has softened in recent weeks as the realization grew that his absence was seriously damaging the team’s hopes of success.

Cook hinted as much on Wednesday when he said: “The process is well on its way. We do need to draw a line in the sand for the sake of English cricket, but it’s a very important decision that we’ve got to get right.”

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