Kevin Pietersen 'excited' to open for England

England’s Kevin Pietersen plays a shot in the nets during a training session in Dhaka

Dhaka, February 17, 2011

Kevin Pietersen said he was “excited” by the prospect of opening for England at the World Cup after being promoted to the top of the order during a tight warm-up win over Canada. England have struggled to find a quick and plentiful supply of runs from a one-day opener since the international retirement of Marcus Trescothick, although the past year has seen captain Andrew Strauss enjoy his best limited overs form.

Pietersen, usually a No 4 batsman, made 24 off 28 balls against Canada but it was wicketkeeper Matt Prior, tried as a one-day opener, with 78 batting at No 6, who did most to get England to 243 all out. England scraped home by 16 runs after a blistering 93 off 70 balls from Pakistan-born Rizwan Cheema threatened to give Canada a shock victory.

Pietersen was encouraged by his own display, which came after England had discussed the prospect of him opening towards the end of an Ashes-winning tour which nevertheless concluded with a 6-1 one-day series thrashing by Australia. “It’s really exciting – a nice positive move going into the World Cup,” he told Sky Sports.

“We spoke about it going into the end of the Australia tour. We feel at the top of the innings is a really nice time to bat. I’ll look to play my normal game,” the South Africa born batsman insisted. “It’s not a pinch-hitting role. It was put to me, and I was very excited — and the team are right behind the decision. I’m fine. I have a nice little feeling about it.” Encouragingly for England, fast bowler Stuart Broad returned from an Ashes-ending stomach injury and a recent bout of illness with five wickets for 37 runs. “It was nice to get a few boys back (from injury),” said Pietersen.

“They were tough conditions today, but some really good stuff from our lads — Broad coming back, (Ajmal) Shahzad coming back and Matt Prior playing beautifully in the middle of the innings, and Jonathan Trott playing really nicely.

“Broadie and Shaz bowled with the new ball exceptionally well. At the end of the day one bloke from Canada played beautifully, hit the ball out of the middle of the bat and played a wonderful innings – and that can happen on any particular day.

“So hats off to him – but we still won the game.” All-rounder Cheema, left reflecting on what might have been, said: “It feels great when the ball is going out of the park. “If we’d not lost so many wickets early, it would be a different story.”