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12 April 2024

New ECB chairman opens door for Pietersen's England return

In a file picture taken on December 5, 2010, England batsman Kevin Pietersen celebrates scoring a double century against Australia on the third day of the second Ashes Test match in Adelaide. (AFP)

By Reuters

Incoming England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves has left the door open for a return to the England side for controversial former captain Kevin Pietersen and said he must return to county cricket to champion his cause.

The 34-year-old was sacked by England in February 2014, was later released by county side Surrey and appeared to have severed any chance of returning to international cricket following the well-documented release of his autobiography.

Pietersen, who last played for England in January 2014's Ashes Test in Sydney, berated a number of former team mates and ECB officials in his book.

National selector James Whitaker had said there was no way "Pietersen will ever get back into an England team" but Graves refused to rule out his return.

"The first thing he has to do if he wants to get back is start playing county cricket," Graves told the BBC.

"The selectors and the coaches are not going to pick him if he's not playing, it's as simple as that.

"At the end of the day it's down to the selectors and coaches and what they feel is best for English cricket.

"They will make the decisions and I will support them when it comes to that decision."

When asked if he would consider surrendering existing contracts in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Pietersen was non-committal.

"To be honest it's only happened in the last three hours and I'm not going to hassle anyone yet. I'll have to go away and make a few decisions, speak to some people and see where my future lies," he told Sky Sports.

ECB managing director Paul Downton said in December that too many "bridges had been burnt" but former captain Michael Vaughan said the their decision to continually overlook Pietersen should be addressed.

"The ECB hate anyone talking about the Pietersen factor and have successfully managed to ensure the mainstream media do not bring him up, but there is no doubt he should be batting in this team," Vaughan said in the Daily Telegraph after England succumbed to an abject eight-wicket defeat against New Zealand last month.

Pietersen made his England debut in the first Test of the 2005 Ashes series at Lords and scored 8181 runs in 104 test matches at an average of 47.28.

The South African-born batsmen was lauded as one of the most damaging and feared stroke-players of his generation compiling 23 centuries and 35 fifties.