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Pietersen still long way from return, Cook says

England skipper says talks are ongoing and there are issues that have yet to be resolved

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 3:22am

England captain Alastair Cook said Kevin Pietersen remains in talks with ECB officials as the controversial batsman fights to save his international career.

Pietersen has been in exile since sending text messages to South Africa players that criticised then England skipper Andrew Strauss during the recent test series.

With reports circulating that Pietersen had also fallen out with several of his teammates as a result of his behaviour, the South Africa-born star was axed for the final test, the subsequent one-day series and the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka.

England managing director Hugh Morris said there were still issues to be resolved with Pietersen before he could return to the fold and Cook confirmed there was still some distance between the two parties as talks continue.

Morris and ECB chief executive David Collier have been in Sri Lanka, where Pietersen is working as a television pundit for the Twenty20 World Cup, and it is believed they met the exiled star in a bid to continue the peace process.

"I did have a meeting with Kev and I have been involved in meetings. Clearly the issues haven't been resolved and that is why he is not available for selection at the moment," Cook said.

"Time hopefully will be a healer and we will be able to move on, but the issues will still have to be resolved before Kevin plays for England again.

"Meetings are still going on in Sri Lanka at the moment. David Collier and Hugh Morris are out there as well.

"If the issues can be resolved, Kevin has said he is available for selection but at the moment that can't happen."

Pietersen hopes to be playing for England by the time the tour of New Zealand starts in February, he said yesterday.

In a Twitter conversation with New Zealand rugby union star Dan Carter, Pietersen wrote: "Hoping alls sorted & I'm on the NZ tour in Feb. If so I'll bring you a gun of a bat!"

Cook conceded England's hopes of winning the four-test series in India have been hit by Pietersen's absence.

"That is a given," Cook said. "Kevin has proved in all conditions around the world that he is a world-class player."