‘I don’t think we’ll see KP play in England again’
Kevin Pietersen is unlikely to play cricket in England again, according to Alec Stewart. Pietersen was released by Surrey at the end of last season and Stewart, the club’s director of cricket, said there was little chance of him appearing in England’s T20 competition, the NatWest Blast, in the foreseeable future as he pursues franchise deals around the world.
Pietersen featured for Surrey at the start of their 2015 Championship campaign – scoring a majestic, unbeaten 355 against Leicestershire – as he attempted to revive his chances of playing for England once again, but appears to have now settled on life as a T20 freelance. Over the last 12 months, he has played in the Caribbean Premier League, Australia’s Big Bash League, the Ram Slam in South Africa and the inaugural Pakistan Super League.
He has previously expressed his dissatisfaction at the Blast schedule, which sees teams by and large playing once a week, and Stewart believes Pietersen will no longer grace the English summer, describing him as a “southern hemisphere player”.
“From the conversations I’ve had with him, we won’t see him play in England again, which is sad,” Stewart said. “He’s now, as I call him, a southern hemisphere player. Our off season is very much his cricket season.
“So he’s now going to have downtime with the family, he’s going to be in the IPL, he’s not going to go to the Caribbean Premier League, he’s going to have a three-four month break and then he’ll go off to the Bangladesh Premier League, I think. So he’s got enough cricket around but sadly, no, we won’t see him.”
Surrey must step up a level in Championship cricket this year, having been promoted as Division Two champions, and they have faced some criticism for their winter recruitment, which involved bringing in two South African bowlers and former West Indies international Ravi Rampaul as a Kolpak signing.
Stewart defended the decision to recruit Rampaul, Mathew Pillans and Conor McKerr, saying it was important to strengthen their squad. Surrey saw three fast bowlers – Chris Tremlett, Tim Linley and David Balcombe – retire during the close season, while Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker are currently unavailable due to injury.
“We lost three experienced bowlers at the back end of last year and we looked to see who was available,” Stewart said. “We looked around England, because obviously that’s where we should look, but there was no one – unless you can tell me otherwise – who was available and who would have fitted the bill.
“Our academy, which has produced good players, currently hasn’t got the number of bowlers coming through ready to play and that’s why we did what we did.
“We still want to produce players through our system, that’s what we have been doing, and not just be successful here but go on and play for England. That’s what we’ll continue to do – at times you do have to go outside what your processes are. This year, because of the three retirements – two came as a little bit of a surprise – we had to act pretty quickly. We’ve taken a bit of a punt, hopefully it will prove the right decision, in the fact we’ve now got numbers in our squad.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo