Kevin Pietersen is keen on playing for England again if his differences with the ECB can be resolved.
The South-African born batsman left the international fold in acrimonious circumstances after the Three Lions’ Ashes whitewash, despite being their highest-scorer Down Under.
But while his high-profile falling-out with then head coach Andy Flower suggested his England career was over, Pietersen is already eyeing a comeback under his replacement Peter Moores.
Sadly, that decision is likely to be out of his hands, with England’s elites unlikely to concede what would be a humiliating case of backtracking.
Pietersen arguably has the upper hand, after the ECB were forced to apologise for remarks made by managing director Paul Downton. The former Kent and Middlesex wicket-keeper accused ‘KP’ of being “disinterested” and “distracted” during the Ashes – evidently ignoring his bold performances. The apology, however, was thought to take into account public opinion, which remains largely behind Pietersen.
At 34, Pietersen admittedly does not have time on his side. Were he to be recalled, England would also have to make sure he will conform to team guidelines, and that his personality would not cause too much of an issue in the dressing room.
On Pietersen’s political struggles with the England hierarchy, West Indies great Brian Lara told the BBC, “(Pietersen) must be a benefit to the team”. Unfortunately, Pietersen’s outspoken nature, together with the ECB’s stubbornness, makes that incredibly difficult; he has already renewed his criticism of wicket keeper Matt Prior’s selection, insisting that Lancashire’s Jos Buttler is more deserving of a place.
Nonetheless, now that Pietersen’s has thrown the door ajar, if not wide open, to a return, captain Alistair Cook will have a large bearing on whether that goes ahead. Though with a long way to go to alleviate criticism of his leadership, Cook appears to be on the verge of turning a corner.
England were perhaps unfortunate to lose the Test series against Sri Lanka, only just missing out on victory in the first match and coming close to a draw in the second.
Though it is too late for him to make the squad for the upcoming series against India, Pietersen’s return could facilitate a return to winning ways. At present, that is a proposition the ECB may find impossible to resist.
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