Cook stresses importance of team harmony

England captain Alastair Cook has held meetings with Kevin Pietersen

England captain Alastair Cook has held meetings with Kevin Pietersen

First published in National Sport News © by

Kevin Pietersen returned to South Africa on Thursday night after holding a series of clear-the-air meetings with England captain Alastair Cook and other squad members.

The talks, held in Oxford, were part of Pietersen's programme of reintegration into the England team following the text message scandal which split the dressing room. England head out to India in a week and even Cook was uncertain whether Pietersen would be added to the Test squad, although he conceded time was running out.

But Cook also stressed that it was more important that the England management made the right decision rather than rushing through a quick decision which could backfire horribly. "The meetings have been going on and the process is well under way," Cook said.

"It is important we don't rush this process so we get the best opportunity of that. We want all our world-class players playing for England. We have got to get it right. It is a very important decision for the sake of the England team moving forward. We have got to be thorough.

"We all know how important team harmony is and team ethos is and that showed when we were successful, how tight we were as a side. That is a very important thing to make a good side.

"We do need to draw a line in the sand at some stage and move forward for the sake of English cricket. We need to move forward as a team. We have an amazing 18 months ahead of us."

England will host the final Champions Trophy next June before it is scrapped to make way in the international calendar for a new World Test Championship from 2017.

Cook has led England to the top of the one-day rankings but he insisted there is much more to come from his team.

"We don't feel like we are the number one. We have a huge amount of potential and work to do," he said. "The Champions Trophy is a very important event for us as a side. We don't often get the opportunity to play at home in a tournament. We have only won one ICC tournament and we would love to win another.

"We have a great winter in India and New Zealand, the ICC Champions Trophy and then Australia. We have the opportunity to do something special if we play well."

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