KP issue still lingering

2015-05-14 21:00
Kevin Pietersen (Getty Images)

London - The shadow of Kevin Pietersen has continued to hang over England's cricket team as a 12-man squad containing uncapped pair Adam Lyth and Mark Wood was selected on Thursday for the first Test against New Zealand.

The first squad announcement since the firing of coach Peter Moores, and the hiring of Andrew Strauss as England's new director of cricket, consisted entirely of players who recently toured the West Indies.

Opener Lyth and paceman Wood did not play any of the three Tests in the Caribbean, but both could make their debuts at Lord's next week in temporary coach Paul Farbrace's first match in charge.

Lyth is sure to be captain Alastair Cook's opening partner following the retirement of Jonathan Trott.

Pietersen missed out after being told by Strauss that he doesn't feature in England's immediate plans because of "massive trust issues" between the batsman and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Pietersen was recently given encouragement by the incoming chairman of the ECB, Colin Graves, that a return to the Test team after more than a year's absence was possible, with a clean slate, if he performed well in county cricket.

Pietersen scored 355 not out for Surrey this week, but his path back to the England set-up has been blocked by Strauss.

The Pietersen saga has dominated the sports agenda in England this week, and Ian Bell became the first member of the Test team to speak out about the matter.

"Kevin is a quality player, probably the best player I have ever played with, so he does make any team stronger," Bell said.

"Will it harm our chances not to have him this summer?

"If we think about it and let it come into our dressing room and talk about it, yes it probably might."

Wood made his ODI debut for England in a washed-out match against Ireland last week and looks to be battling with Chris Jordan for a spot as the third seamer behind James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the test side.

England drew the series 1-1 in the West Indies and is looking to gather winning momentum in a two-Test series against New Zealand to take into the five-test Ashes series starting on July 8.

"It is key that this group of players learns from the instances when the opposition was put under pressure and we were in a position to press for victory but couldn't quite manage it," national selector James Whitaker said.

"New Zealand are a very talented side, and I expect a very competitive series."

The first Test starts next Thursday.

England squad: Alastair Cook (captain), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Mark Wood.

Read more on:    ecb  |  kevin pietersen  |  cricket

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