KEVIN Pietersen hinted yesterday that he will be back in the England fold “soon” after the defending champions were knocked out of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Super Eight stage.
There has been no official confirmation from the England and Wales Cricket Board yet, but it is thought the intention is that chairman Giles Clarke – and maybe Pietersen himself – will issue a statement “in the next 36 hours” and take questions in the above time frame.
The South Africa-born batsman was unavailable for the tournament in Sri Lanka because of contract wrangles and the breakdown of his working relationship with England coach Andy Flower and former Test captain Andrew Strauss.
But it is understood peace may have broken out and South African-born Pietersen assured one follower on Twitter yesterday that he will be “back soon”.
If he does belatedly agree a central contract, he ought to return to the fold for at least some part of England’s winter in India and then New Zealand.
Flower said yesterday: “The situation is ongoing. I think it’s nearing an end now – in a positive way, I hope.”
Pietersen infamously enraged his employers, and left Strauss feeling “let down”, when it emerged that he had sent “provocative” text messages to the South African opposition during this summer’s Headingley Test. He was subsequently dropped from the final Test of the summer at Lord’s, and had in any case been left out of England’s Twenty20 and one-day plans following his retirement in May from all international limited-overs cricket.
Pietersen revised that position, but not in time for consideration to play in Sri Lanka. He has instead been employed there for the past two weeks as a broadcast pundit.
Any notion that Pietersen could yet be added to the Test squad, already announced to tour India from the end of this month, appears premature. Flower said: “There’s been a lot of formal communication between the ECB and Kevin – and there will be a press conference, I would imagine in the next 36 hours, which will enlighten you a little further.
“Let’s just get over that first hurdle. We don’t close doors to anyone.
“If we get over that first stage and get some of the formal legal proceedings out of the way, then we’ll get on to the cricket.”
England were knocked out when they lost to the hosts in Pallekele on Monday night and Flower does not try to pretend Pietersen’s skills were not missed in the faltering campaign.
“Of course,” he said. “But he wasn’t available for this tournament when we selected the side.
“The fact of the matter is we didn’t play well enough.
“Last night [Monday] was a quarter-final, effectively, and we weren’t good enough to beat Sri Lanka on their home soil.
“There were little sparks of positive play, but they were more streetwise than us and obviously deserved to win.
“It’s sad we’re leaving this early, but that is a fact of life.”
Flower traces England’s troubles to their record defeat against India in the group stage ten days ago – a 90-run trouncing which did not halt progress there and then, but sowed doubts.
“I think the loss against India knocked the confidence a little.
“But we made the second round, and then won only one of those three matches – so we didn’t deserve to get through.
“There was no momentum.
“These young players will have got a great deal out of it. But, as everyone knows, world tournaments aren’t for the learning curve, they’re to be won – and we haven’t done that.”