Pietersen a gamble for S.Africa tour: Gatting

ENGLAND: Former England skipper Mike Gatting believes it is unlikely Kevin Pietersen will be at his best on the upcoming tour of South Africa and has branded the batsman's inclusion in the tour party a gamble.

Pietersen is in both the one-day and Test squads for the 11-week tour that gets under way next month, despite having yet to fully recover from surgery he underwent in July for an Achilles tendon problem.

The South African-born star is expected to be physically fit in time for the five-match one-day series that begins in Johannesburg on November 20.

But Gatting questioned whether that would leave sufficient time for him to regain his form in time for the Tests.

"We only have one or two warm-up matches so it's going to be a big ask from him to get back to his best, even someone of his ability," Gatting said. "He wasn't in the best of nick when he left.

"He hasn't played for a few months and hasn't done a great deal. He can't just pick it up where he left off after such a serious injury. You have to have a couple of games to get into it, get your rhythm back, get your hand-eye co-ordination right and it will take time.

"He may still have the injury lingering in the back of his mind so he has to get fully confident again. All that has to be out of his mind so he can get on with the batting."

Pietersen, 29, has yet to play a Test for England in his homeland but scored three centuries in five one-day internationals there in 2005 and has gone on to establish himself as one of the world's finest batsmen.

England nevertheless have demonstrated that they can thrive without Pietersen by beatingAustralia in this year's Ashes series before reaching the semi-finals of the recent Champions Trophy tournament in South Africa.

"We managed to win the Ashes without Pietersen so I can't see why we can't do well in South Africa without him," Gatting added.

"What England have to do is get rid of that inconsistency because at the moment when they are good they can be very good, but when they are bad they are very bad."