Paul Nixon: I predict Kevin Pietersen will be back for the Ashes

Paul Nixon column

DESPITE what has been said about Kevin Pietersen not being in England’s plans, I believe we will see him play for England in the Ashes. I’m positive it will happen.

The way the ECB have acted in recent weeks and months has given KP the moral high-ground and he’s got the chance to be the shining knight to come back and rescue the team.

I’ve been in contact with him since the meeting with Andrew Strauss and he’s as angry and fired-up as anyone could be – he’s desperate to play for England again.

When he has a bee in his bonnet I’ve always said he’s at his best and once he’s free from this calf niggle I can see him scoring hundred after hundred.

If he does that and England continue to struggle in the Test arena then the clamour for his return will reach fever pitch, it’s already strong enough!

In the coming weeks I fear what’s going to happen against New Zealand and that’s even before the Australians arrive on the scene.

I didn’t think I’d ever write this – but the players in the team would surely welcome the pressure being taken off them, even if that meant bringing KP back.

He’s got his body right, his mind back on the longer form of the game and is one of very few batsmen that this Australian bowling line-up would not want to bowl at.

Yes Gary Ballance, Ian Bell and Joe Root have been the best part of the team in recent months but what happens if one of them gets injured in the first Test?

Who better to walk out to bat than KP with all his experience and his desperation to prove he belongs at that level still.

As a former captain I would always want my best team to be on the park with me no matter what and that would be the case with KP. Even Alastair Cook could come to realise that in the coming weeks and months.

He knows he’s caused problems in the past but so have other players and not everyone gets on in a team environment but it should be about the greater good and the team winning.

I just about got on with HD Ackerman during his time at Leicestershire and we had huge differences of opinions on certain things, but for the good of the team we couldn’t afford to be without him.

He had such knowledge and passion for the game that he could sometimes have a negative, disruptive influence on the dressing room.

He would fly off the handle at the younger lads if they did something wrong and was even worse in a contrived finish.

HD hated results that had been cooked up by declarations because of weather – he just wasn’t used to it in the sunnier climates of South Africa but it had to be done in England.

He would bat slowly to show his distaste for what was happening and wouldn’t want those runs counting to his scores. I had to walk on eggshells with him half the time but if that was best for the team I was willing to do it.

The game in England simply can’t afford to have the summer that I believe is coming with the state of the national team.

Participation levels are already dwindling and if we were to lose five Tests out of seven this summer – not an unrealistic proposition given the strength of opposition we are about to face – then what about all the sponsors of the England team? Are they going to want to still be involved?

It’s beyond a personality clash now and that’s why I believe this whole sorry saga is still far from over.

This article was originally published in The Cricket Paper, May 15 2015

Twitter – @TheCricketPaper

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