Peter Hayter: Emotions are too raw at the moment to allow KP to return to England's team
21:20 GMT, 15 September 2012
Barring a dramatic turn of events at the 11th hour, Kevin Pietersen appears certain to be out of England’s squad for the tour of India when it is announced on Tuesday, just as his name was absent from the original selection made almost a week ago.
Time is certainly running out for Pietersen and the England camp to strike a last-minute deal to enable him to travel on the first leg of the winter Test tours.
The signs are that a series of meetings, described as amicable in nature, have produced some progress towards a resolution of the issues that led to Pietersen being dropped for the final Test against South Africa at Lord’s and missing out on an England central contract.
Isolated figure: Pietersen is unlikely to travel to India with England's Test squad
Yet it appears the fall-out from the revelation that he sent text messages to ‘close friends’ in the South African dressing room containing offensive remarks about Andrew Strauss is still too great and feelings within the England camp still too raw for Pietersen to be welcomed back.
Opinion is split in the game over Pietersen’s future, as revealed by a poll of former captains and team-mates by The Mail on Sunday. But at least one former team-mate, Paul Collingwood, believes Pietersen should stay at home this winter.
‘Emotions are still very raw,’ he said. ‘I do believe Kevin will play for England again but the one thing England will make sure of is that the decision they make is not just for a short fix but for the next few years.
‘There is a need for the emotions to die down and for both sides to be clear he will be back in when the time is right and not just because we are going to India and it is the hardest challenge.
‘A happy camp usually plays better than a disgruntled one and going to India, with his Indian Premier League contacts, will not help. India is a place which can test team spirit at the best of times. You’ve definitely got to be very together in a place like that because it can be tough, not just on the field but off it as well.’
Back to the day job: Pietersen has been in form for Surrey
When England announced last week that
they were delaying the announcement of the squad, some believed the door
was being kept open for final talks which could yet swing the decision
in Pietersen’s favour.
It was claimed that Strauss’s successor Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower may be prepared to countenance his return, having taken soundings over whether Pietersen could be accommodated within the dressing room without damaging team spirit. Without him, England would be taking an inexperienced top six to India.
The contrary view was that England were sticking to their guns but wanted an extension on two grounds. First, they needed to make sure any legal niceties regarding a possible case for constructive dismissal had been covered. Second, they wanted Flower and his England World T20 squad to be in Colombo before showing their hand.
A fresher view was that Pietersen had been asked to travel to India and also commit himself to England for the whole of their Test tour of New Zealand but had asked for more time to respond. Or that he had turned the offer down.
It has been said that Pietersen has sought to explain why he has not been able to engage with the team as they would have liked. He has felt it difficult, or even inappropriate, to express himself in a dressing room run by one man who replaced him as captain – Strauss – and another he wanted removed as assistant coach when he demanded the sacking of Peter Moores.
Decisions to make: Andy Flower (right) and Alastair Cook (left) will not want to disrupt team harmony
Whatever Piers Morgan may have broadcast on Twitter, both sides also appear to agree that alleged links between Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and James Anderson and the now defunct KP Genius parody twitter account were not as much of an issue to the player as it seems to have been to his celebrity supporter.
Morgan last week accused the trio of conspiring to wreck Pietersen’s career and Anderson of being an ‘egocentric berk’. Swann is the only one to have responded publicly by tweeting: ‘Sorry to disappoint all you Piers Morgan fans but KP’s parody had nothing to do with me. I suggest a warm cocoa and an early night.’
More central to the discussions, it has been said, have been Pietersen’s long-term and unconditional commitment to the England cause and the full and frank disclosure of the exact content of the text messages.
Pietersen’s main opponents in the dressing room have not altered their belief that his behaviour towards Strauss was reprehensible and probably unforgivable.
For an accommodation to happen, Pietersen would have to convince the England players that his commitment to their cause is not merely pragmatic and that they would have no more trouble from him in future.
In the end, however, it appears Pietersen has run out of time.