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Kevin Pietersen presents no problems for new coach Matthew Maynard

Cricket - Kevin Pietersen File PhotoBy Chris Stocks The Observer, From The Guardian

• St Lucia Zouks coach has ‘never had any issues’ with batsman

• Pietersen will be involved in discussing selection and tactics

Kevin Pietersen is an X-factor player, according to Matthew Maynard, who will be coaching him in the Caribbean Premier League. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

For all the talk of ghosts in England’s team hotel last week, it is the spectre of Kevin Pietersen which still haunts Alastair Cook’s beleaguered team.

Matthew Maynard was himself involved with England in a former life, assistant to coach Duncan Fletcher from 2004 to 2007 – a period when a young Pietersen made his way in the international game. Maynard and Fletcher both departed after England’s woeful winter of 2006-07, when an Ashes whitewash in Australia was followed by the customary World Cup blowout.

In came Peter Moores in his first incarnation as England coach and one Andy Flower, who replaced Maynard as the team’s assistant. That moment was to prove a watershed in Pietersen’s international career, with the deterioration in his relationship with Moores resulting in him being stripped of the captaincy, and then his falling out with Flower ultimately leading to his departure after yet another Ashes debacle Down Under last winter.

It may be no surprise then that Maynard’s view of Pietersen is perhaps a rose-tinted one, aided by the memory of the young, precocious and skunk-haired batsman who played such a key role in winning the 2005 Ashes.

Yet the St Lucia Zouks coach is determined not to make the same mistakes as England when he welcomes the South African-born batsman into his Caribbean Premier League squad later this month.

“I have never had any issues with Kevin Pietersen as a player to manage,” said Maynard. “His work-rate is fantastic and I think given the responsibility he reacts really well. I think he’s the type of player that if he’s not involved with decision-making then he feels a little bit left out because he’s got so much to offer.

“I’ve always included him in various discussions I’ve had, whether that be team selection or tactics, just to get his point of view because as an X-factor player he can see the game slightly differently. It’s so important, I think, to include those guys in any discussions about tactics or the game itself and make them feel part of the team.

“I just remember seeing a Test match when Kevin was playing, he was shoved down to fine leg, there was no chat with him [about tactics].

“He was captain in the past, he’s got a very good cricket brain and is switched on. Whatever’s gone on, I don’t believe we can lose our best players like Kevin Pietersen. I’d always have him in my team.”

Maynard will have his wish when Pietersen joins up with the Zouks after Surrey’s NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final against Worcestershire on Saturday, and despite a top score of just 39 for Surrey, Maynard is not concerned about Pietersen’s form. “When you play one game a week as the set-up in the UK is, it’s hard to get the quality practice,” he said. “You find yourself practising a lot on your own.

“In T20 if you’re slightly out of nick it’s hard. By the time Kevin gets out here we’ll be playing a lot of games on the bounce and then it’s one knock and you’re off. It won’t be like the UK when there’s only one match a week.”

As for an England side who go into Sunday’s third Test against India on the back of their worst run of form for 21 years, Maynard believes things might get worse before they get better. “I think it’ll take time,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of senior players. It really is a transitional period in English cricket and the public will have to be quite patient because I don’t believe the results are going to come quickly.”

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