Cook - KP still important
Alastair Cook insists Kevin Pietersen remains integral to England's one-day plans heading towards the 2015 World Cup.
Last Updated: 03/10/11 2:14pm
Kevin Pietersen remains an integral part of England's one-day squad as they build towards the 2015 World Cup, insists ODI skipper Alastair Cook.
Pietersen has struggled for form in the 50-over format in the last two years, managing just two half-centuries in his last 30 innings.
The 31-year-old was rested for the limited-overs matches against India at the end of last summer, raising doubts about his long-term place in England's ODI plans.
But Pietersen was included in a 15-man squad for the five-match return series in India in October and Cook has no doubts about the South African-born right-hander's value.
"I see Kevin as a huge part of this one-day side, especially for the 2015 World Cup," Cook said on Sky Sports News HD ahead of his side's departure from Heathrow.
"He has had a tough 12-18 months with his form. This happens when you spend a huge amount of time at the top of the game, it's very hard to keep your standards high.
"I think he still averages high-40s in Test cricket, so it is amazing we are talking about dropping him when he is still a fantastic performer.
"His stats in the last couple of years in one-day cricket haven't been as good as they were in the first part of his career.
"Part of our job as an England management is to try and get him back to playing like that, because KP averaging 50 and a strike-rate over 100, like he was in the first part of his career, is a huge element of an England side which we can't ignore.
"Like everyone, you always have to perform to stay in the England shirt. You can see with the players who are not coming on this tour what great competition there is for places. That is a very encouraging sign for the selectors and the overall England picture."
England have included several promising youngsters in their squad and Cook admits everything is geared towards the 2015 World Cup.
"It is all about trying to build towards the 2015 World Cup," he said.
"But people like KP and Swanny (Graeme Swann) I can see having huge impacts in 2015.
"We will have to manage them well to get them there but they are fantastic players who I would want in my side.
"It is a very exciting time for those youngsters, especially arriving today to go on their first England tour, you can see the excitement in their faces.
"It is great to have that enthusiasm around and they will be desperate to play - but they have to earn the right to play."
England play two warm-up matches at Hyderabad's Gymkhana Ground on October 8 and 11 before the first ODI against India takes place in the same city at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on October 14.
"I certainly think we can beat India," Cook said. "It will be incredibly tough. We need everyone to be playing very well.
"We all know what the one-day crowds are like over there. They love their cricket.
"Delivering our skills when 50,000 or 60,000 people are screaming and when balls are flying all over the place will also be a key factor, but certainly with this squad I think we can do something really special."