Pietersen won’t be a problem, says Cook
England vice-captain Alastair Cook has leapt to the defence of Kevin Pietersen, scoffing at suggestions the under-siege batsman could become a major problem for the tourists this summer.
Former Australia coach John Buchanan stirred the Ashes pot earlier this month when he claimed Pietersen could have a negative effect on the English side if he can’t return to his blistering best.
Pietersen, who has failed to strike a Test hundred in his past 26 innings, hit back by labelling Buchanan a nobody and Cook was adamant his high-profile teammate was ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“He’s obviously had a difficult 12 months with his form but his work ethic over those 12 months has been the hardest I’ve seen him work at his game,” Cook said on Sunday.
“Talent like that and the stats he’s got behind him show what a great player he is.
“Great players might lose their form for a little bit but they come back and a big series like this – I think it’s just about the right time to come back and I know he’s desperate to prove to people he’s still a great player.”
Pietersen is determined to re-establish himself as one of world cricket’s great players after a lean 12 months that also saw him axed from England’s Twenty20 side.
Cook also has a point to prove this summer, with the 25-year-old opener clearly frustrated with his return of just 498 runs at 26.21 over his 10 Tests against Australia.
“The one side I haven’t played as well against as the other sides has been Australia,” Cook said.
“I’ve got that point to prove over the next three months.
“Last time I was obviously 21 years old (when England toured Australia in 2006-07). To come here as an opening batter as a youngster was a very tough learning curve.
“It was my first year in international cricket as well.
“So to have 50-odd more games under my belt, seen a lot more, I think that experience will help.”
Cook was adamant England harboured no scars from their demoralising 5-0 series loss in Australia four years ago.
“I think as a side we’re in a totally different place,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be key that a lot of us give (captain Andrew) Straussy a lot of support.
“It’s a real tough place to come and play as a whole side and the captain as well, there’s always that extra pressure and Straussy has dealt with it well.
“It’s up to us to get behind him, to try to help him in the moments, and my position as vice-captain to help him more than I have done.”© AAP 2013