Moores cools KP return talk

Published: Sunday 8th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Kevin Pietersen’s hopes of a second England chance have been dealt another blow after coach Peter Moores appeared to rule out the possibility while he is in charge of the national team.

Incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Colin Graves, last week suggested there was an avenue for Pietersen to make an unlikely return should the 34-year-old batsman play county cricket.

The ECB quickly sought to clarify Graves’ comments insisting “nothing has changed” and that only players “who are seen as a positive influence will be selected for England”.

Pietersen has nonetheless been enthused enough to seek out a new county, after he left Surrey last autumn, and has claimed he has had plenty of interest.

But when the prospect of a change in Pietersen’s availability was put to Moores, who endured a fractious relationship with him when they were Test captain and coach in 2008, he offered a succinct dismissal.

“We’re over here but it sounds like it was taken out of context,” he said. “The policy on the KP situation has been made pretty clear by Paul (Downton).”

ECB managing director Downton has spoken publicly on several occasions about Pietersen’s apparent “disengagement” with his team-mates before he was axed in the aftermath of last winter’s Ashes whitewash in Australia.

While Pietersen’s hopes of returning to international cricket appear to grow slimmer by the day, Jonathan Trott could be on the verge of a recall for the upcoming Test series against West Indies.

Moores confirmed that ECB national selector James Whittaker had been in contact with Trott, as well as the other players he captained during the England Lions’ tour of South Africa this winter, in the wake of reports the right-hander was set to be picked for the for first time since leaving last winter’s Ashes with a “stress-related illness”.

Whittaker flew into Adelaide this week to discuss the squad for the Caribbean, which is set to be announced during the World Cup.

“Jonathan has been with the Lions and Jimmy has been in touch as all the players outside of the current group here, we stay in regular contact with,” Moores said. “That’s normal for us.”

Trott has slowly worked his way back into the England reckoning after a strong summer with Warwickshire before he earned his Lions call-up to tour his native South Africa.

A recall for Trott could see him open the batting alongside Alastair Cook in the Caribbean after Gary Ballance has pinned down his Test place at three in his absence.

Cook has had the winter off to prepare himself for the tour after he was axed as one-day captain following the pre-Christmas tour of Sri Lanka.

Moores revealed he has been in frequent contact with Cook, who he reported was “in a good place” and over the disappointment of missing out on a World Cup place.

“Our working relationship never really changed and that was good,” he said.

“He’s been an international player for a long time and understands that it is a tough business and things change. Things changed for him.

“He’s certainly moved on. After this World Cup there’s a lot of Test cricket, and a lot of exciting Test cricket. He’s in to that, it’s exciting for him. It’s also exciting for me as coach to know the captain of the Test side is in a position where he can be doing some planning and work forward to get ready for it.”

Moores’ most pressing concern is, however, a crucial week ahead when his position would come under increasing pressure should England fail to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Defeat to either Bangladesh, in Adelaide on Monday, or Afghanistan four days later would send England crashing out of the tournament prematurely.

Even if they do win both games a Bangladesh win over New Zealand, albeit unlikely, would end England’s campaign.

Moores has already felt the heat of a poor tournament – after England were powerfully swept aside by Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka – and former England captains Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood have both already questioned whether he is the right man for the job.

Moores was handed his own second chance at the role last April, after Downton described him as “the outstanding coach of his generation”. That tag alone has started to hang like a noose around Moores’ neck, but he remains defiant he made the right choice to accept the job again.

“I’ve no regrets at all. I came in because I felt I could help make a difference,” he said.

“We know in the one-day format of the game it is an area where we’ve been behind and it’s an area we have to get better. I think we’re selecting exciting players who are improving quickly.

“I’ve no regrets on taking on the challenge. As regards to yourself as a coach you have only one focus here and that’s winning a World Cup.

“It’s once every four years. Everybody is focused on England doing well, we have one goal and that’s tomorrow and that’s to win tomorrow’s game to stay in the tournament.”

Published: Sunday 8th March 2015 by The News Editor

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