Pietersen hits a ton in the Carribean

 

CRICKET: Kevin Pietersen returned to the England ranks with a spectacular hundred but the fitness of another former England captain, Andrew Flintoff, was a cause for some concern.

Pietersen began the healing process following his acrimonious departure as England leader with the first hundred of the Caribbean tour, while Owais Shah also reached three figures against a St Kitts & Nevis XI.

But the withdrawal of Flintoff from the three-day affair at Warner Park - as a precautionary measure due to soreness in his left side - is a disruption to preparations for the first Test in Jamaica.

Stuart Broad will take his place for the rest of the match in St Kitts.

England will resume on Monday on 424 for eight, with Shah unbeaten on 125.

Such a strong position is down to the brilliance of Pietersen, however, who despite retaining some lingering bitterness over his new year demise, was evidently pleased to allow his batting rather than off-field actions to draw attention.

"What happened to me for a couple of weeks really, really hurt me," said Pietersen, who was persuaded to resign after calling for former coach Peter Moores to be removed. "I have just got to really and truly get back to doing what I love.

"And when I cross over the white line, that is what I love. I love training, I love batting and I love scoring runs for England.

"It has been difficult but I am okay now; I would like a few questions answered first for everything to be gone but time is healing."

Pietersen has maintained he only pushed for Moores' removal after being asked for his blueprint for the England team by his bosses at Lord's.

"I suppose it was frustrating because I did everything by the book, everything that I was supposed to do," said Pietersen.

"But it is done and dusted. I just wanted to get back playing cricket, back into the dressing room with the lads and there is no better place to do that than in the Caribbean."

It was the perfect way to return to the ranks after only three Tests in charge of England.

"I knew it was never going to be a problem," Pietersen said. "The media created a storm, not me.

"I loved doing the job, absolutely loved it, and I thought we were going to go in the right direction - the direction in which I wanted to take the team.

"Unfortunately that was taken away from me and I am a great believer in what is meant to be, is meant to be."

Pietersen's successor, Strauss, is effectively in charge of the tour, given there is no coach in office, and he has asked for his colleagues to take more responsibility for the team's performance.

Such a scenario is something like the vision for the future Pietersen presented when quizzed by his England and Wales Cricket Board bosses over Christmas.

"That is probably one of my frustrations, yeah: what I wanted, he's got," said Pietersen, of Strauss' captaincy. "But at the end of the day, I am not in charge, I am enjoying it and scoring a hundred is what turns me on, so that's good."

Strauss fell for nought, to the second ball of the match, but his new unofficial right-hand man, Alastair Cook, contributed a half-century, as did Steve Harmison, before perishing in the final over of Sunday's evening session.

Elsewhere impressive knocks from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers helped South Africa claim a convincing eight-wicket victory in the fourth one-day international against Australia and an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.

De Villiers smashed an unbeaten 82 from 85 balls while Amla was 80 not out as the pair put on a 144-run partnership to help steer the Proteas to their target of 223 with almost 12 overs to spare.

Australia's innings of 222 had been patchy at best with Ricky Ponting's 63 the only highlight for the hosts at the Adelaide Oval.