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No room for Kevin Pietersen in England's 16-man squad for India tour; Root, Compton included

09/18/2012 08:36 EDT | Updated 11/18/2012 05:12 EST
LONDON - Kevin Pietersen was left out by England on Tuesday for the upcoming cricket tour of India, keeping the country's star batsman out of favour after the text-message controversy that threatened team unity and his future at international level.

Pietersen said he was "naturally disappointed" to miss out on a place in the 16-man test squad, having held a series of talks with England management after being dropped last month for sending "provocative" texts to South Africa players about then-test captain Andrew Strauss.

"There are issues still to be resolved, Kevin has not been considered for selection for the India tour," ECB managing director Hugh Morris said.

The squad contained uncapped batsmen Joe Root and Nick Compton — the grandson of England great Denis Compton — and will be captained for the first time on a full-time basis by Alastair Cook.

But the continued absence of the South African-born Pietersen, who averages nearly 50 in test matches and is the most prolific batsman in the world when at his best, provided the main talking point.

Pietersen has apologized for sending the text messages to his friends in the South Africa squad, which were reportedly critical of Strauss and coach Andy Flower, and has pledged his commitment to England.

However, with the issue remaining a divisive one in the England dressing room, he was stripped of his central contract this month and wasn't included in the squad for the World Twenty20, which begins Tuesday.

"Kevin Pietersen is naturally disappointed about today's decision, having gone to great lengths to reach a reconciliation with the ECB," a statement released by his representatives said. "Pietersen has met with — and apologised to — Andrew Strauss. He has also met with Alastair Cook to stress his commitment to England and met with ECB board members.

"At all times, Pietersen had wished his dealings with the ECB to remain private so as not to inflame an already difficult situation. His recent silence was not an admission of any wrong-doing; he wanted to explain and apologise to the ECB for the messages exchanged with members of the South African team."

While the door still appears open for a return to the England team for Pietersen, possibly in time for the tour of New Zealand starting February, there clearly is still conflict between management and the batsman.

"It is disappointing, he is a world class player but it is about a team game ... It is not just about an individual in a changing room. It is a team ethic and unity," national selector Geoff Miller said.

Pietersen's absence leaves England's batting lineup looking thin and short on experience, with Strauss having retired last month.

Replacing Strauss as the opening partner for Cook will likely be the 21-year-old Root, who averaged 43.41 for Yorkshire in the English county championship this season and is seen as one of the country's brightest hopes.

Even more is expected of Compton, who was the leading batsman in English cricket this season with an average of 99. His family background will also put pressure on him to deliver on the highest stage, with his grandfather a national icon after scoring 17 centuries and 5,806 runs in a 20-year test career between 1937-57.

"Nick Compton has performed well consistently for Somerset in county cricket this season, made big hundreds and shown that he has the temperament and the technique to play at a higher level," Miller said.

Ravi Bopara lost his place in the squad after a poor run of form in the second half of the season, while England included three spinners — Samit Patel, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

England travels to India on Oct. 25 for the tour, which includes four tests. After three warm-up games, the first test begins in Ahmedabad on Nov. 15.

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Squad: Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Eoin Morgan, Monty Panesar, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.

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