Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No rush for refreshed Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen will resist the temptation to rush back into action after he joined up with his England team-mates in Johannesburg. The tourists were skittled for 89 by South Africa A on Tuesday evening, and have a number of injury concerns in the squad, but Pietersen doesn't expect a hurried return for the Twenty20 internationals.

Pietersen had a vigorous net session at the Wanderers after the England squad flew in from Bloemfontein following the embarrassing reversal against South Africa's second string. The first Twenty20 takes place in Johannesburg on Friday followed by the second at Centurion on Sunday, however Pietersen is still targeting the 50-over warm-up against South Africa A next Tuesday as his first England match since the second Ashes Test in July.

"I'm looking at playing the warm-up game on Tuesday next week at Potchefstroom and then, I hope, the first one-day international," he told reporters. "But we'll just see how this next week goes. I'm certainly not going to rush things - I tried that a while back. So that's the plan, and I feel good for it at the moment.

"I've done some rigorous training over the last six weeks, I've done a lot of work at Lord's in the last week before I flew out yesterday and I'm feeling good, I'm feeling fresh mentally. I had a bad day on my Achilles yesterday, but I think that was just purely down to the flight. I've woken up feeling really good today."

Pietersen's four-month lay-off has given him a chance to move on from the challenges of 2009 which included losing the captaincy in the public falling out with Peter Moores before injury problems first occurred in West Indies.

"I enjoyed the break to refresh my batteries, to get myself right and ready to know that I can compete again and want to compete again. But I hated getting injured because I wanted to continue playing to be a part of what was a successful summer. So that was where I was at, but now to be back in an England tracksuit is great.

"I've just treated this break as something to get my head right, to get myself back in love with the game," he added. "I hated missing fixtures for England, I really wanted to be part of a successful Ashes campaign. I wanted to be part of the one-dayers and try to affect that in a hopefully positive manner against Australia."

In Pietersen's absence the batting order has been learning to cope with their leading player. Jonathan Trott's debut hundred in the Ashes decider has cemented his place in the Test line-up, while there has been encouraging development in the one-day format from Joe Denly and Eoin Morgan despite the hiccup against South Africa A.

Graeme Swann even went as far as to suggest that Pietersen will have to fight for his place again and, though Pietersen shouldn't have too much to worry about, there is increased competition in the batting ranks.

"I think the team looks like they're really on fire to do some good things out here in South Africa and to be really competitive," Pietersen said. "I'm very encouraged to hear all the positive things that have been said to me by the players over what's happened in the past couple of weeks."

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