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Speculation of England return is "nonsense", says Kevin Pietersen

The 36-year-old put to rest claims that he could be about to play for England again.

Kevin Pietersen Joe Root
Kevin Pietersen doesn’t want to be an unnecessary dressing room burden on young captain Joe Root

What’s the story?

Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has rubbished speculation that he may make a sensational return for his country as “nonsense”.

With Alastair Cook out of the frame and a new era beginning under Joe Root, there had been talks that relations between Pietersen and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could thaw.

But speaking to ITV, Pietersen said, “I spend a lot more time now with my family than I ever did when playing for England. I don't think I want to do it.”

“I don't want to put that pressure on him as a young captain, to always have the nonsense of my rigmarole hanging on, let him do what he wants to do, let him enjoy it.

“I love this young England cricket team and I want to see them doing well. I don't want that nonsense, I've got no interest,” Pietersen added.

The context

Every time there’s regime change in England, there’s speculation that the door may once again be open for Pietersen, although those rumours have always come to nothing. The relationship between Pietersen and Strauss (his long-time captain) took a nasty turn, and with the latter being the ECB’s Director of Cricket, a return for Pietersen was always going to be far-fetched.

The heart of the matter

Pietersen and the ECB have never exactly got on. In 2008, the South African-born batsman was made captain but lasted just five months after an ugly fallout with then-coach Peter Moores. He then announced his retirement from international white ball cricket in 2012, although he did later return. But after England’s hopeless whitewash down under against Australia in 2013-14, he was sacked.  

While he still harboured ambitions to play Test cricket for England, those hopes were dashed after being told by the ECB that he wouldn’t be recalled on the back of a majestic 355 not out for Surrey.

It was a real kick for Pietersen who had knuckled down and done everything anyone could expect to get back in the Ashes side for that summer. He has since indulged in life as a T20 freelancer, most recently playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the 2017 Pakistan Super League.

What’s next?

Well, not a lot as far as Pietersen and England go. But the 36-year-old will make his return for Surrey this season after a two-year absence to play in the NatWest T20 Blast.

Author’s take

One can hardly blame Pietersen for shutting the door on the “nonsense”. He has been easily good enough to play for his country in recent years, yet despite persistent efforts – and even a County Championship triple century – the hierarchy has continued to shun him.

It’s also fair to say that Pietersen is no longer the future, and that selecting him wouldn’t be a productive long-term move – something he seems to hint at in his quotes. 

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