Collingwood backs KP-free England

PA Sport
Paul Collingwood insists England can cope without Kevin Pietersen

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Paul Collingwood insists England can cope without Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen remains the vexed issue England must solve to go forward in Test cricket, but his complicated life will have no bearing on their chances of retaining the ICC World Twenty20, according to Paul Collingwood.

England's selectors are preparing to announce whether Pietersen can return after his summer of turmoil into their Test plans - while the man himself is due in Sri Lanka to broadcast his opinions on the World Cup.

But Collingwood, who led his country to Twenty20 success two years ago, believes Pietersen's presence, or otherwise, in squads for India or television studios in Colombo will be an irrelevance to England's hopes of defending their title. He said: "I don't think it's a distraction to the Twenty20 form of the game."

That remains England's only International Cricket Council global trophy to date, after almost 40 years of trying. Pietersen was man of the tournament in the Caribbean. But Collingwood reasons that the superstar batsman's early defection this time round - he retired from all international limited-overs cricket almost four months ago, before reversing his decision to no avail - has helped England plan without him.

Collingwood added: "He made that decision to retire from one-day cricket - which he knew was then going to keep him out of the Twenty20 side. That plan has been there from the start, and that is his doing."

In Test cricket, the former one-day international and Twenty20 captain senses Pietersen's controversial breakdown of relations with coach Andy Flower is more of a problem.

"It has certainly been distracting from the Test point of view," he said. "You don't want to lose your most skilful player - but if it's detrimental to the team when he does play, that is where strong decisions are made."

In the here and now, England will concentrate - under Stuart Broad's captaincy - exclusively on the sprint format. They began with a nine-run warm-up win over Australia on Monday, and Collingwood is confident the young guns present will be up to the task.

"You look at the players that have come in, and it's properly exciting," he said. "You look at the batting line-up now; they are young players but very skilful and powerful players. Ask any attack in the world, and they will not be looking forward to coming up against those batters.

"I think we have a better batting line-up than we did last time - and that is without KP in it. Your (Craig) Kieswetters, your (Michael) Lumbs are two years better. They have a lot more experience. I think we have a great chance."

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