Cook welcomes Pietersen return
England captain Alastair Cook welcomed Kevin Pietersen's return to the squad for the tour of India as "the best possible outcome" to a sorry saga.
- Related Content
And while he stressed that Pietersen will start with a clean slate when he links up with the squad, Cook admitted that rebuilding the broken trust within the squad remained a work in progress.
England fly to a training camp in Dubai tomorrow without Pietersen, who is still on Champions League Twenty 20 duty with the Delhi Daredevils.
Pietersen was added to the Test squad last week after convincing the England players of his contrition over the text scandal which erupted last summer.
Cook had made it clear he wanted Pietersen, who boasts a Test average of 49.48, back in the side and his selection was facilitated by a series of meetings held in Oxford last week.
"I am just delighted we have got a world-class player back. As a captain I wanted our best players available because that is how we get our best results," Cook said.
"He comes back with a clean slate and he will be desperate to pull on that shirt and score runs. As a captain that is all I can ask for.
"It has been a difficult two months for us as an England side but for me as a captain I think the best possible outcome has happened.
"We have got a world class player back in our team. Once the decision's made, we have Kevin back in the team, we do have to draw a line in the sand under what has happened.
"As a captain, I want him to be back in the side as he was, to score match-winning runs as he did in Colombo (against Sri Lanka in March), as he did at Headingley (against South Africa last summer)."
Pietersen was axed from the England team for the final Test of the summer after it emerged that he had sent text messages to members of the South Africa team.
While the past has now been consigned to the past, Cook conceded that rebuilding the team spirit which underpinned England's rise to become the world's leading Test team would be an ongoing project.
"It has been a tough couple of months for Kevin but he seems very contrite and he is desperate to be back doing what he does best, which is scoring runs for England," Cook added.
"These (trust) issues have been discussed. We are very confident he can fit into the team, otherwise he wouldn't have been added to the squad.
"The team are very confident that it all can work well but we know how important team spirit is and we have to work hard to protect that.
"There is always going to be a lot of work to be done but those meetings which went on before the tour have been really helpful and key to this process."
Pietersen will link up with England once his Twenty20 Champions League commitments with the Delhi Daredevils are over.
Cook leads England on tour as official Test captain for the first time, having assumed the role from Andrew Strauss at the end of the summer.
"We have a really tough challenge ahead of us. It is nearly 30 years since we won in India," Cook said.
"That shows the challenge ahead but I have confidence in this squad that we can go out there and do something special.
"It is an exciting time to be an Englishman to go to India and play four Test matches, and back-to-back Ashes and New Zealand as well. We can do something special.
"I just need to be true to myself - I can't pretend to be Andrew Strauss. He was a great leader and he did some fantastic things for the side but it is a different side now."
India A have selected a squad for the first warm-up match that does not include any spinners, one area in which England struggled badly against Pakistan in the UAE last winter.
"What happened in UAE against Pakistan highlighted where we were and we struggled. We know how key playing spin will be in India," Cook said.
"We know what we have to do as a side from our experience over the last six or seven months. We don't have any control over who they pick and we will just have to adapt as best we can."