Kevin Pietersen claims he has received a number of offers this week as he ponders whether to sign a contract with an English county and make a play for an international return.
Frozen out of the England set-up since his central contract was cancelled 13 months ago, the right-handed batsman was planning to divide this summer into two parts, with spells in the Indian Premier League until the end of May and its Caribbean equivalent in June and July.
But since the incoming ECB chairman, Colin Graves, went on national radio last Sunday and pointed out that his stated dreams of an England recall were just talk unless a county deal was secured and championship runs flowed from his bat, Pietersen has been emboldened by the belief that a comeback is now possible.
That the ECB issued a statement that night insisting “nothing has changed” has not dented his enthusiasm; Pietersen has since said he will seek out talks with Graves, who takes over from the current chairman, Giles Clarke, in May, to discover whether the prospect of adding to his 104 Test caps is realistic.
And on Friday, while discussing a report on ESPN Cricinfo of an earlier approach from Leicestershire, before Graves’ comments, the 34-year-old said other clubs have been in touch this week about the possibility of a deal.
“I believe an offer was made and so have a few others this week … let’s wait & see what my decision is,” he wrote on the website BreatheSport, adding: “Lots to think about but desperate to put #626 and #185 back on my chest” in reference to the cap numbers on his Test and one-day international shirts.
Pietersen’s management was unavailable for comment but Surrey, who released him at the back end of last season, are understood to be monitoring the situation. Pietersen’s previous desire to play as a Twenty20 specialist had led their director of cricket, Alec Stewart, to look elsewhere but any potential availability for their County Championship and 50-over campaigns could change that stance.
Existing obstacles to an international comeback include the presence of the managing director, Paul Downton, who sacked Pietersen in February 2014, the national selector James Whitaker, who stated he would never play for England again, and the head coach, Peter Moores, who lost his first spell in the job due to a fallout with the then-captain.
The former England captain Michael Vaughan, who knows Graves from their time together on the board at Yorkshire, believes Sunday’s comments were genuinely hinting that a softening of the ECB’s stance was possible under the incoming regime. And he believes that, with the England side performing so poorly at the Cricket World Cup, the long-term futures of anyone in the management set-up are far from secure.
“Colin Graves has dangled a very small carrot. It should have happened a year ago. He’s said, ‘Commit to county cricket, score a double century, double century for Surrey, you never know,’” Vaughan told Radio 5 Live this week. “Who knows what will be in place in three months’ time if England continue to play in this vein? There might be new coaches, there might be a new management structure.
“If Kevin is doing what he’s saying and he’s desperate to play, he’ll play county cricket and I’ll pretty much guarantee he’ll score plenty of runs doing it,” Vaughan said. “I think it’s a long shot. But there will be a new chairman and he said everything will be on the table: the structure of the game, England cricket, domestic cricket. [Graves] is starting afresh, he’ll bring no baggage and he’ll give everyone an opportunity.”
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