Kevin Pietersen stays at Surrey as James Taylor leaves Leicestershire

Kevin Pietersen will stay with Surrey as long as he retains his central contract with England, so quashing any further suggestions that he has ambitions to break free from the county system and become English cricket's first free agent.

Pietersen's commitment to Surrey has little immediate benefit to the county as he will be largely unavailable, playing instead for England – but it does bring stability and also stays true to the insistence by England's coach, Andy Flower, that he remains loyal to the county system.

A Surrey statement said: "Kevin Pietersen has extended his contract with Surrey until the end of his central contract with England," and, in return, the county was praised by the player for a "fantastic environment and work ethic", but it would surprise both parties if Pietersen discovered an urge for county cricket once his England playing days were over. In that, he would be far from alone.

Pietersen first signed for Surrey on loan at the end of the 2010 season, a deal part-brokered by England after he left Hampshire because it was too far from his Chelsea home. He played two first-class and two Twenty20 games for Surrey last season, his captaincy record taking a knock when he led a young side to a 10-wicket defeat against Cambridge MCCU. He can expect a similarly limited involvement next summer in another crowded fixture list.

His Hampshire appearances were equally thin on the ground, amounting to seven championship games and 19 matches in all forms of one-day cricket in six seasons.

If Pietersen's involvement with Surrey is largely notional, the same cannot yet be said about James Taylor, a veteran of 63 first-class games by 21, and whose move from Leicestershire, Division Two's bottom club, to Nottinghamshire is the biggest transfer of the close season.

Taylor, just back from a spin bowling camp in India with England's performance programme squad, has only 10 days at home before he leads the England Lions in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and he used the first of them to call in at Trent Bridge and tie up a few loose ends with his new county.

He also had discussions with Warwickshire and Lancashire before opting for Nottinghamshire, explaining: "There are lots of stories about Trent Bridge being bowler-friendly but if I can score big runs on bowler-friendly pitches then that will have to look good for me. It's hard to get into the England side at the moment and I wanted to make that step up into the First Division and test myself against the best bowlers in the country."

Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's coach, confirmed that Taylor will bat at No4 in the championship, saying: "He is an old-fashioned, bat-all-day cricketer. He has every chance to play regularly for England but the England lineup is fairly settled so I hope we'll get some good cricket out of him for a couple of years."

The Lions captaincy brought limited rewards for the last two incumbents, Andrew Gale and James Hildreth, also middle-order batsmen, but so far it has brought benefits to Taylor. "If you look at my stats I have scored a lot more runs when I have been captain than when I haven't been," he said. "I'm sure the added responsibility is going to help my game."

Powered by article was written by David Hopps, for The Guardian on Thursday 22nd December 2011 19.29 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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