Pietersen tipped for England tour of SAfrica

LONDON: England skipper Andrew Strauss has voiced confidence that star batsman Kevin Pietersen will be ready to take on South Africa next month.

The 29-year-old, who has been out of action since July after undergoing surgery to address a long-standing Achilles problem, is set to be named Thursday in England's one-day and Test squads for an 11-week tour of South Africa, which begins next month.

Although Pietersen is not expected to be ready for the two Twenty20 internationals which open the tour on November 13 and 15, England's selectors believe he will return during the five-match one-day series, which begins on November 20 in Johannesburg.

"KP is getting better quite quickly now so we are very hopeful he will make the trip," Strauss said. "Hopefully he will play in some one-dayers and then a full part in the rest of the series.

"The sooner he is back the better. It's going to be as hard a series as we could possibly have at this stage of our development."

England coach Andy Flower said of Pietersen's participation: "We can't say yet but I am still thinking positively along the lines of him starting the South African tour."

Pietersen has yet to play a Test in his homeland but he made a big impression there in 2004-05, when he started his England career by making three hundreds in five one-day internationals.

Jonathan Trott, another South African-born player, is likely to be named in both the one-day and Test squads and the former Proteas Under-19 player is resigned to a hostile reception.

"Playing against any international team is no different," he insisted. "Just because it is South Africa does not change things, any game for England is going to be difficult and one I look forward to the challenge of wherever it is.

"I will be raring to go if selected, there will be no nervousness or apprehension.

"If people choose to (boo) you have to get on with it. You have no choice.

"If people choose to act in that way you can't change it, so there is no point worrying about it.

"It's the same as sledging, another way you can be put off your game. That's the whole thing about external distractions, they can contribute to you not playing your own way."