Cricket: Pietersen could be back in fold for NZ tour

Controversial England batsman Kevin Pietersen could be back in the fold for the team's tour of New Zealand which starts in February next year.

Pietersen was sent into exile after sending provocative texts to players in the South Africa team during the series against the Proteas in England in August and September. The Proteas won two of the tests in the series, with the other drawn.

The texts contained criticism of then captain Andrew Strauss, who has since retired from the game.

Pietersen, 32, was dropped for the final test and left out of the one-day series against South Africa and then the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, but has entered a "re-integration" process and could tour with the team to India and New Zealand.

Strauss's resignation also makes Pietersen's inclusion much more likely.

England begin their tour of New Zealand on February 4 with a warm-up match in Whangarei and play three Twenty20 matches, three ODIs and three tests against the Black Caps. The first international fixture is a T20 match at Eden Park on February 9.

England bowler Stuart Broad said his international teammates were ready to end their rift with Pietersen, who has a test average of 49.48 and is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world.

"It's in the management's hands. Of course [we'd welcome him back]. We've had some amazing success with KP as a team," Broad told the BBC.

"I've been in the side six years, we've won two Ashes series and a Twenty20 World Cup, and we know that KP is a really dangerous player for us.

"There's not a better man in charge than Andy Flower to put the situation right and there's a lot of trust in him at the moment.

"Whether it's for [the tour of] India or New Zealand, the team will welcome him back.

"We pride ourselves on being an honest changing room and the only way to move forward is to talk about things.

"There will be a meeting with some of the hierarchy and we just need to lay some things out.

"I think that will be a really good meeting with most of the England players, and hopefully we can move forward and draw a line under the whole experience."

England begin their tour of India on October 30.

- APNZ

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