Pietersen released from IPL deal to reignite England career
LONDON (AP) — Kevin Pietersen secured a release from his contract with Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday in a bid to reignite his England career.
The agreement with the Sunrisers will see Pietersen miss the entire first phase of the IPL, enabling him to play for an English county side. The batsman will be recalled if the Sunrisers reach the knockout stages from May 19-24.
England ditched Pietersen after last year’s Ashes in Australia so the team could build a new “ethos and philosophy” without its most talented and controversial batsman. However, the new chief of English cricket said recently that Pietersen could be recalled if he performs well in county cricket.
“My focus is now very much on the upcoming season in England, and I’m absolutely determined to score as many runs as possible,” Pietersen said in a statement on his official website.
“I’ve never made any secret of my overwhelming desire to once again represent England, and I’m going to do everything in my power to earn a recall to the international set-up.”
Surrey deregistered Pietersen six months ago after a summer in which he played only T20 cricket, but has been heavily linked with re-signing England’s top run-scorer in all formats.
The statement said Pietersen’s aim was to earn “a place in the England squad for the upcoming Ashes series” against Australia, with the first of five tests starting in July.
England also plays two tests against New Zealand across May and June. The first test is at Lord’s starting May 21, which clashes with the IPL finals.
Pietersen has said he has spoken to Colin Graves, the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, on the telephone about the chances of reviving his international career. Graves said last month that players would be picked on performance and not personality when he takes over the role in May, adding that Pietersen would first need to play in England, and then score some runs if he was to push for selection.
There doesn’t appear to be any joined-up thinking in the ECB, though.
James Whitaker, England’s national selector, said at a squad announcement for the upcoming West Indies tour that Pietersen was “not part of our plans” after being repeatedly asked about the batsman. England test captain Alastair Cook didn’t give Pietersen much encouragement either, saying his recall was “unlikely.”
Pietersen is a former England captain and has played 104 tests, 136 one-day games, and 37 Twenty20s.
“To once again put on that England shirt would be a privilege and an honor,” he said, “but now I have to focus on performing domestically and give myself the best possible chance of meriting selection.”