sport

KP signs full central contract

Kevin Pietersen's return to the England fold has been finalised as the star batsman signed a full central contract with the ECB.

The sight of Ashley Giles holding court as England coach in place of team director Andy Flower means the forthcoming one-day series against India is already a new beginning of sorts and the same can now be said for Pietersen.

He should play his first ODI since February 2012 in Rajkot on Friday and will do so having put pen to paper on the same deal as England's other senior players.

A turbulent 2012 saw Pietersen retire and un-retire from limited-overs internationals, give an unforgettably tense press conference at Headingley and be dropped for sending "provocative" text messages to South Africa players.

Almost incidentally, he also played some of the best innings of his career.

Since undergoing a process of "reintegration" - as prescribed by his ECB employers - he has been working on a short-term deal as opposed to the year-long contract handed to 10 other key figures in the autumn.

That was due to expire at the end of the month but, as expected, he is now on the same terms as his team-mates, with an agreement in place until September 30.

"Kevin has now signed up fully," said Giles, who has just completed his first full week in his new role.

"He is fully back on board. It's great news.

"Whatever happened in 2012, we're moving into a new year now. It's great for me to have him here (in India). His experience in this side in this part of the world is invaluable."

Pietersen's return from exile has been smoother than the protracted sequence of events that saw him dropped from the final Test of the summer against South Africa and miss the World Twenty20 despite having belatedly made himself available.

He appeared suitably contrite in a joint appearance with ECB chairman Giles Clarke in October, quickly earned his way back into the Test side for the pre-Christmas series in India and made a dashing 186 in Mumbai to underline his importance to the side.

Flower indicated in December that a permanent return and a full central deal was the likeliest outcome after his successful comeback and that was rubber-stamped in the last 24 hours.

There is some irony in the fact that, having formalised his continued commitment to the England cause, Pietersen will miss the next series after India.

England head to New Zealand next and the 32-year-old has already been told he has been rested for the ODI and Twenty20 leg of that trip, before returning for the three-Test series.

There is nothing untoward in that decision, with England also leaving Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Jonathan Trott at home this month as part of their ongoing policy of workload management.

Unfortunately for Giles, his sides are more likely than Flower's Test XI to be altered by the policy, but he accepts the current international schedules are too much for players who play across the three formats.

"I think it's just a function of the era we are playing in," said Giles.

"We have to look after our cricketers, particularly with the amount of cricket we have coming up.

"In the next 12-18 months it is imperative we look after our best players, both physically and mentally.

"If that means occasionally resting them or rotating them out of the side then that is the way it will be.

"But wherever there is injury, or rest, or rotation there is opportunity and it's up to the young guys to show what they can do."