Kevin Pietersen is hoping he can relive his England dream after all thanks to the new contract he has signed with Surrey.
Barriers to his Test recall remain many – not least that the record-breaking batsman, who will be 35 by the time this summer’s Ashes begin, must demonstrate a return to his best form and fitness.
But after Surrey confirmed yesterday they have signed him to play in LV= County Championship Division Two, Pietersen has perhaps secured his passport to reconsideration by England. Even that is not assured given the mixed messages emanating from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Paul Downton described the controversial Pietersen as “disengaged” in his final Test to date as England lost heavily in Sydney to complete their Ashes whitewash almost 15 months ago.
The ECB managing director has since been steadfast in his appraisal that Pietersen will not be back – as has national selector James Whitaker and coach Peter Moores, while Test captain Alastair Cook rates the prospect “highly unlikely”.
Incoming chairman Colin Graves – the outgoing Yorkshire chairman – is soon to be the most powerful voice of all at the governing body, though, and his indication this month that a return could yet be possible – via county cricket – is the potential game-changer.
Pietersen extricated himself from the majority of his Indian Premier League contract thanks to the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Surrey signed him up once his immediate availability was assured.
Pietersen knows exactly what he must do to navigate the next hoop of re-qualification after the ECB sacked him in February last year.
“All I am looking for is a fair opportunity to play for England again,” he stated in his newspaper column. “I just want a blank sheet of paper, and to be judged on merit.”
After two telephone conversations with Graves, he will soon speak to the new chairman “face to face”.
“I think he is open to discussing drawing a line in the sand in terms of what’s gone on,” he added.
“Even if this does not work out and I do not get back in the England team, I will at least end my career knowing I gave it another shot.
“I would kick myself for a long time if I walked away now, without having a go.”
Pietersen, who will donate his Surrey wages to his own charity foundation, has related his despair when he thought for sure his England days were done.
“For 14 months it has been very painful to think I would never play for England again and my career had come to a sad, premature end,” he said.
“But when I heard Colin Graves say that I would be considered for selection again if I play county cricket and score runs, I realised I had the opportunity for a fresh start.”