England’s ODI captain Alastair Cook has assured Kevin Pietersen that he will play a huge role in England’s quest to claim the 2015 World Cup.
Pietersen was omitted from the recent one-day series against India - which England won 3-0 - leaving many to question his long-term involvement in the 50-over format.
However, Cook has insisted the South Africa-born player, who has been selected as part of a 15-man squad for the forthcoming tour of India, remains a key figure for England in the limited-overs format, stating the need to "manage" players as the reason for him missing the home series with India.
"He was rested," he told Sky Sports News. "We've talked about making sure we look after players - we do play a lot of cricket. There was a slight wrist injury as well and these things you have to take into consideration. I'm sure he would have liked to have played that series but I see Kevin as a huge part of the one-day side, especially in the 2015 World Cup. He's had huge success out in Australia but we need to manage him well so he can get there.
"When you play all three forms of the game it's incredibly tough and you spend an awful lot of time away from home, with the family as well, it's just a case of thinking what's best for the England team and also Kevin."
Regarding Pietersen's form, Cook admits it has not been where it was when he first burst onto the scene but is confident England's hierarchy can help him re-establish his best batting. "He has said he has had a tough year to 18 months with his form," he said. "I think that happens when you spend a huge amount of time at the top of the game - it's hard to keep your standards high. I still think he kept his average around 40 in Tests so it's amazing we're talking about a drop when you're still a fantastic performer.
"In 50-over cricket, his stats in the last couple of years haven't been as good as they were at the first part of his career. Part of our job as an England management is to try and get him back to playing there. A KP averaging 50 and striking it over 100 as he was for the first part of his career is a huge element of this England side and we can't ignore a talent like that."
When asked whether Pietersen, who has struck only two half-centuries in his last 30 ODI innings, needs to prove his desire for 50-over cricket on the upcoming trip to India, Cook said: "I wouldn't say that. Like everyone you always have to perform in an England shirt. You can see the players who are not coming on this tour what a great competition there is for places, and that's an encouraging sign for the overall England picture."