Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Hope KP's Swagger Will Stay

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Hope KP's Swagger Will Stay

Article excerpt

ENGLAND are hoping their new, 'reintegrated' Kevin Pietersen will not change too much.

Alastair Cook's team will be banking on the superstar batsman to be back with all his swagger and dominance when the Test series against India gets under way tomorrow. Pietersen has had to convince England management and senior players of his goodwill to regain favour in time for this demanding challenge after his summer of discontent over contract wrangles, text messages and other vexations.

What England cannot afford, however, is for a humbled Pietersen to return with his talents diluted.

That certainly did not seem the case, albeit against modest opposition, when the South Africa-born batsman warmed up for the first of four Tests with a powerpacked century against Haryana last week.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior believes Pietersen is still the real deal.

"We wouldn't want KP to change too much, because it is how he is that makes him special as a player," said Prior.

"If Kev suddenly came as this shy, introverted character I would be more worried. I want him to go out and express himself, as he does."

Pietersen has an adoring public, as well as team-mates, to please here - thanks to his exploits in the Indian Premier League.

The partisan crowds will be aghast if he helps England to an improbable series victory against their home-grown heroes, but they would doubtless like to see some fireworks from him too.

Prior added: "You only have to walk around India and see these guys who have watched him play in the IPL ... they can't wait to watch him bat - and we can't either. I'm glad he's come back the same 'KP' as he was." Under coach Andy Flower, new captain Cook and his predecessor Andrew Strauss, England have made team spirit perhaps their most valued virtue.

Prior reports that Pietersen is very much a part of that.

"The important thing is this group all pulling together in the right direction - and Kev, the character that he is, pulling with us makes us a far stronger team. That is happening right now." Prior has an enviable reputation, in his 'engineroom' position behind the stumps and at number seven, as the epitome of England's one-for-all ethos. …

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