Kevin Pietersen returns home from leading England's contentious tour of India admitting it has been one of the toughest times of his career.
Pietersen admits to a rough time
MOHALI // Kevin Pietersen returned home from leading England's contentious tour of India later yesterday having admitted it has been one of the toughest times of his career. Pietersen arrived back with the rest of the squad having at least salvaged some pride by drawing the final Test, although that still meant a fifth defeat in eight Test series.
During the last two months he has overseen the Stanford fiasco in Antigua, a 5-0 one-day series drubbing in India and the delicate negotiations about whether England should return for the Test series in the aftermath of the terror attack in Mumbai. It would have been a tough examination even for an experienced captain, let alone someone who only took over in charge of England's Test and one-day sides a couple of months earlier.
"It's probably been the toughest six to eight weeks of my career so far so to score a hundred like I did (in the final Test) meant a heck of a lot to me," said Pietersen. "I don't think captaining any nation in any sport is an easy job and you acknowledge when you take on the job that it's going to be very hard at times. "These last two months have been pretty difficult, so you can look at the positives and when the good times come back again you can enjoy them a lot more."
But despite another series defeat, Pietersen feels his experiences on tour - his first as captain - have been invaluable to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates. "You learn a lot about individuals," he revealed. "Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood, blokes I played under, said that when you go away you see how people operate. "I've learned a lot. It's been a very interesting first two Tests to skipper away from home and I've enjoyed it.
"We unfortunately come unstuck but we've all had a great time out here and everyone has been so hospitable." But the former England captain Nasser Hussain was not so hospitable on talks that Vaughan, Pietersen's mentor, was set to come back into the Test side. Vaughan spent five years as captain and stepped down in August and, despite having played no international cricket and having little success in the domestic game, he was awarded a central contract.
Now the Yorkshire player has been touted to make a return for England following the series defeat in India and the struggles of Ian Bell. Hussain, however, feels Vaughan has not yet proved himself worthy of a place ahead of next year's tour of the West Indies. "Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Michael's batting and the experience he would bring as a successful ex-captain. "I'm also well aware that Kevin Pietersen is close to him and may want him on the board. But the time isn't right. Since retiring as captain, Michael has done nothing to justify winning back a place in England's top order."
* PA Sport