21 Mar 2013

Cook defends Pietersen's inclusion despite knee injury

6:39 pm on 21 March 2013

The England captain Alastair Cook is defending the decision to allow top batsman Kevin Pietersen, to play the first two cricket tests against New Zealand despite being hampered by a knee injury.

The injury's now forced him out of the series decider starting tomorrow in Auckland.

Pietersen experienced discomfort in a warmup match prior to the first test in Dunedin and he spent time off the field at the University Oval where he looked out of sorts while fielding.

He played the second test at the Basin Reserve but the England team management have decided not to risk aggravating the injury further in Auckland with England having back-to-back Ashes series against Australia later this year.

Cook says Pietersen's injury has got progressively worse and it was felt the third test might be a step too far.

Initial medical assessments have indicated Pietersen will need up to six weeks off suggesting he could be available for the return series against New Zealand, before Cook's side host the Champions Trophy one day tournament and then play Australia for the Ashes.