London: Plans are being formed for a series of meetings between Kevin Pietersen and his England team-mates and management during a five-day stopover during the Champions League T20, which runs from Tuesday until Oct 28.
Pietersen will be playing in the tournament in South Africa for his Indian Premier League franchise, the Delhi DareDevils, but has agreed to fly home to begin his “re-integration” process with the England team.
It is understood Pietersen will meet with senior players, but only at the behest of the England and Wales Cricket Board, which will co-ordinate the meetings, which could be held anywhere.
With England’s senior players dotted around Britain there is the chance Pietersen may have to hit the road and travel around to meet up with his England colleagues.
Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and James Anderson, senior figures who have fallen out with Pietersen, are all based some way north of his home in Chelsea.
The ECB’s academy in Loughborough could be seen as a neutral meeting place beneficial to all parties.
Pietersen has expressed his willingness to embark on a 12,000 mile round trip from South Africa to Britain in a bid to fast-track his way back into the England fold.
England’s pre-India tour training camp in Dubai from October 25-28 has been earmarked as an opportunity for Pietersen to join up with the team again, but that clashes with the latter stages of the Champions League.
If DareDevils got that far Pietersen would be likely to pull out of the competition in a bid to resurrect his England career. DareDevils would be able to replace him in their squad.
Pietersen has issued apologies to his team-mates and met with Alastair Cook, the new Test captain.
Matt Prior has acted as a peacemaker in the past and Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara played in a recent charity golf day organised by the Pietersen family.
Bopara is close to Pietersen but is not on the tour to India.
Sources have indicated Pietersen has spoken on the phone to Anderson.
In the past Anderson and Swann have said they would abide by the ECB’s decision over when Pietersen returned to the team.
To Pietersen’s support, former England captain Andrew Strauss has given his cautious approval for the return of the batsman, but has stressed that work still has to be done to repair the damage done by his actions.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen this quickly,” said Strauss. “I don’t know how the meetings have been going with the ECB and Andy (Flower, the England coach), but they obviously feel that they’ve been given assurances. Once he’s back in the side it’s very important that people move on.
“It’s obviously been a difficult situation for everyone really. If Andy and Cook and the ECB think the time is right now then obviously we all need to get behind them.”
Strauss also said that Pietersen can win England games in India. “We all know what Kevin is capable of. He can show that in India and help them win some Test matches.”
Strauss made it clear that Peterson’s return to the England squad is just the first step towards building bridges with the rest of the team.
“I think a lot of what should happen now is that people have to sit down and be honest with each other, saying how they felt and getting it out of their systems and then clearing the way to move forward.”