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Pietersen return will be "difficult" - Botham
6:22pm Wednesday 3rd October 2012 in Sport
Former England captain Sir Ian Botham believes Kevin Pietersen's proposed return to the national side is unlikely to be a smooth one.
Botham has been a vocal critic of the lengthy stand-off between Pietersen and the England and Wales cricket Board and is convinced bridges should have been built much sooner.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke appeared alongside the batsman in Colombo today to announce that a programme of "reintegration" had been agreed between the parties with a view to Pietersen being restored to the England team.
It is currently unclear whether that will be in the forthcoming Test series against India or the one-day leg of the tour in the new year, with team director Andy Flower likely to have the final say.
Botham, though, thinks Pietersen's absence since August will cause some difficulty of its own.
"This should have been sorted out months ago," Botham told Sky Sports News.
"It's dragged on and on and it's very difficult for both parties, but that's for him to sort out.
"I think he's a world-class player but the thing is this should have been sorted out at the very beginning.
"The more it drags on, the more Chinese whispers, the more half-truths become truths.
"It needed to be nipped in the bud. It will be difficult now. He'll have some work to do."
Michael Vaughan, who captained England when Pietersen made his debut in 2005, is in no doubt about who shoulders the burden of responsibility when it comes to a successful reconciliation.
"Most of it is down to Kevin Pietersen - probably 80% of it," Vaughan told BBC Sport.
"The issue is, can Kevin Pietersen be allowed back in that dressing room? Now he has got a four-month trial period and the only way to find out is to go into the dressing room, make a speech, get round with some of the players he has had issues with, and have a beer.
"He needs to iron it all out because you want to see the best players playing.
"The way he speaks to the team, media conferences and statements are just words, the team will want actions. They will want to see how he behaves and how he is around the players.
Former England seamer Bob Willis expressed his astonishment at the ECB for accepting Pietersen's version of events surrounding the BBM messages he sent to members of the South African dressing room.
"I find it flabbergasting that Pietersen can convince the ECB that he didn't say anything derogatory about the England captain," he told Sky Sports News.
"What on earth was all the fuss about? These texts were called "provocative" by the ECB.
"So if they're provocative there must have been some criticism of somebody."
Pietersen's earning power will be enhanced by resuming his England career and Willis believes that finances are a factor.
"I don't think there's any denying he loves the greenback dollar and he's going to earn as much as he can playing cricket.
"I think Kevin has realised his massive sponsorship deals probably would disintegrate, certainly outside of India, if he wasn't playing Test match cricket for England so there was a commercial aspect to this decision as well."
Willis believes Pietersen should be included for the forthcoming India tour.
"The next Test series is still five and a half weeks away. They're talking about reintegration and although the squad has been announced for that India tour, Pietersen, as a central contract holder, should clearly be a part of that team," he said.
Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, a close friend of Pietersen, welcomed the right-hander's return as a win for common sense.
"We have to get on with it, it's good to have him back," he told Sky Sports News.
"It is good to see common sense prevail. As we've said 50,000 times before. I'm glad KP is back in the England side."
Earlier today PIetersen issued a statement, saying: "I'd just like to take this opportunity to apologise to my team-mates, all the England supporters for the situation that has arisen in the last couple of months.
"Thankfully we have drawn a line under it and it's time to move forward.
"Although it's already been covered in the statement, I want to make very clear that at no time did I ever share tactical information with any of the South Africans or the South African management.
"Playing cricket for England is the pinnacle of any cricketer's career and I want an opportunity to do that again as soon as possible.
"Some of my proudest and best moments of my life have been in an England shirt and I want them to continue for as long as possible.
"I'm entirely committed to completing the reintegration process we have agreed over the coming weeks and resuming my England career in all formats, hopefully until the World Cup in 2015, as long as my body allows.
"I want my son growing up seeing me play for England and I hope one day he will put on an England shirt himself."