Birmingham: Kevin Pietersen is setting a “great example” to the younger players in England’s one-day squad, according to limited-overs coach Ashley Giles.
Just over a year ago, Pietersen was briefly exiled from the national side after being accused of sending derogatory text messages regarding then England captain Andrew Strauss to South Africa players.
But following Strauss’ retirement, Pietersen has been “reintegrated” into the England set-up.
With England resting regular captain Alastair Cook, batsman Ian Bell and bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann for the ODI series against Australia, Pietersen has come to the fore and guided the youngsters.
Giles acknowledged Pietersen’s efforts. “I’ve got a decent relationship with Kevin… I’ve played a lot of cricket with him and he’s one of the best players in the world,” said Giles.
Giles added Pietersen, who averages 48.38 in Tests and 41.78 in ODIs, enjoyed the responsibility of being a senior figure in a largely inexperienced squad.
“I think Kevin gets a bad rap a lot for some of the stuff he says and does… But, for me, in this group, he has been great with these young guys,” Giles said. “Youngsters often get nervous when they share the dressing room with a player of Kevin’s stature… They are in complete awe… But Kevin’s been fully involved and has been great. He is very humble.”
In the absence of Cook and Bell, Pietersen found himself opening in the second ODI at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Set a daunting 316 for victory, Pietersen could only watch from the other end as England collapsed to 38 for three.
But he still managed 60 at nearly a run-a-ball, including six fours and two sixes, to provide England with a rare highlight during an otherwise largely forgettable display.