Cook thrilled to have Pietersen back in contention for England

ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook believes the imminent return to fitness of batsman Kevin Pietersen is a major boost for his team ahead of the Ashes series.

Pietersen, who has scored 22 hundreds in 94 Test matches, has been sidelined since March with a knee injury but batted in the nets at Lord’s yesterday as his team-mates prepared for today’s one day international with New Zealand.

And though the 33-year-old will play no part in the three-match series with the Black Caps, or the forthcoming Champions Trophy, Cook is happy to have Pietersen back in the frame.

“It’s great news for England cricket to have him back playing again,” said Cook.

“He’s practising first of all and it’s encouraging that he’s progressing well from that injury. Things are looking positive on that note and hopefully it’s not too long until he’s out in the middle.”

Surrey bowler Jade Dernbach has been added to the squad for the one-day series, which continues with matches on Sunday and Wednesday, as cover for Tim Bresnan whose wife is due to give birth shortly.