KP and Freddie Are Hitting It off at Last; England Bond: Pietersen and Flintoff Will Be Key

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Byline: NASSER HUSSAIN

KEVIN Pietersen has not always had a comfortable relationship with Andrew Flintoff but the bond developing between them will be vital to England building on this almost perfect one-day series and fulfilling the huge potential in this side.

When Pietersen first came into the England team, there was huge anticipation about seeing him in partnership with Flintoff. But, with the exception of the 2005 Edgbaston Test, they had not really clicked until the first NatWest international at Headingley this year which set the tone for the 4-0 triumph.

I think Pietersen, in the past, has been a bit envious of the huge affection that the country holds for Flintoff and Freddie, in return, has been slightly jealous of Pietersen's incredible drive and performance levels.

Yet there are encouraging signs that their relationship is being nurtured. That is great news because Flintoff is the heartbeat of this side, just as Darren Gough was the heartbeat of my England team. If Flintoff is on board, others will follow.

Pietersen certainly seems to have the knack of getting the best out of the senior players.

He has always been a thinking cricketer and now he is thinking about the team as well as his own game. England needed his style of leadership after the relaxed captaincy of

Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood, and even stand-ins Flintoff and Andrew Strauss. Pietersen has challenged people who may have been plodding along, he has given them all a kick up the backside and driven them.

Flintoff has always considered himself a batting allrounder so Pietersen has said: 'OK, bat at five and go out and show me you can deliver the goods there.' And Freddie has done that with a maturity we haven't always seen. Steve Harmison had been bowling well for Durham, so the captain told him to show he could still do it for England. …