Mentoring England starlets would show Pietersen’s changed

 
Andy Lloyd
JETTING in from the other side of the world for talks with the England hierarchy yesterday shows that Kevin Pietersen is making an effort to build bridges after the text message row that threatened his international career.

Having been the cause of the controversy, Pietersen appears to appreciate that the onus is on him to repair the damage done to his reputation and regain the trust of selectors, coach Andy Flower and his dressing room colleagues.

Judging by what some of those players have been saying lately, there seems to be a willingness to welcome the batsman back into the fold, and if that’s the case then I think it would be crazy not to play him in next month’s tour of India.

Delaying his playing comeback until February’s trip to New Zealand would needlessly deprive England of experience in the top order when, with Andrew Strauss retired and Ian Bell likely to miss the second Test for the birth of his child, they need it.

Simply put, he is a better player than the alternatives, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, knows subcontinent conditions better than most from his Indian Premier League stints and would, you’d like to think, feel he had a point to prove.

But his diplomacy doesn’t have to end there. Pietersen could really do himself a favour by spending some time giving guidance to England’s younger players, many of whom haven’t played in India before.

His coach at Delhi Daredevils has praised him for taking teenager Unmukt Chand under his wing to great effect – the likes of Joe Root and Nick Compton could benefit from the same treatment.

It wouldn’t cost Pietersen much but might help England greatly and, by showing everyone that he has turned over a new leaf, would heal the damage done to his image.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer and chairman of Warwickshire.