England quell Pietersen talk ahead of WI tour
LONDON (AP) - England flew out to the Caribbean yesterday suppressing fevered talk about Kevin Pietersen's possible international return and insisting the upcoming Test series against the West Indies isn't make or break for coach Peter Moores.
Pietersen is once again the talk of English cricket after the incoming ECB chairman said the divisive batsman could get back in the squad after more than a year out if he performs well in the county game.
Pietersen isn't in England's squad for the West Indies tour, but Moores said it is time to focus on the players currently in the national team.
"The frustration for me is that people whose dreams are being made by going on this tour aren't being mentioned," Moores said. "They are not getting any air time and it's frustrating.
"I understand Kevin's a huge subject, but I don't think we can be drawn into that. We've got to be completely focused on what's ahead of us."
Speaking at London's Gatwick Airport before England headed out to the Caribbean, Moores said Pietersen "isn't on the radar."
Moores' job is under pressure after England's group-stage exit from the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and the coach will be hoping a return to Test cricket - England's favoured format - lifts some of the gloom.
"We've got these 16 guys going to the West Indies who are desperate to turn around England cricket," Test captain Alastair Cook. "We need to get back to winning ways."
Colin Graves, the incoming ECB chairman, said "there will be some enquiries" if England failed to win the series against the West Indies, who he said will be "mediocre" opposition since many of their stars are playing in the Indian Premier League.
Moores dismissed the suggestion that Graves' comments added extra pressure, saying: "It doesn't work like that.
"From my point of view it's not about the coach, it's about the players, it's about winning . I'm going no further: we've got five weeks, three Tests. If we play really well, we'll gain momentum into a big summer (home series against New Zealand and Australia). The focus has to be playing the right sort of cricket."
The first of three Tests against the West Indies starts on April 13 in Antigua.