KP urged to keep on scoring

Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Kevin Pietersen is being urged to make the England selectors’ lives difficult after his barnstorming start to the summer.

England’s exiled record run-scorer made 170 off 149 balls against MCC Universities Oxford at The Parks on Sunday, at the start of Surrey’s three-day fixture.

Former England captains Alec Stewart, Pietersen’s boss as Surrey director of cricket, and Nasser Hussain have since both had their say on the 34-year-old’s chances of a return to the Test arena.

Stewart is hoping Pietersen can further his quest when Surrey face Glamorgan in their first LV= County Championship fixture next week – while Hussain insists England’s selectors need to clarify with a “very public decision” once and for all whether the controversial South Africa-born batsman has any prospects of playing for his adopted country again.

Pietersen’s impressive return to long-form cricket 14 months after his England sacking was timely, on the eve of the first Test against the West Indies which began 4,000 miles away in Antigua on Monday.

Stewart told Press Association Sport: “Anyone who scores runs will ask questions of the selectors.

“Kevin shouldn’t look any further than the next innings, whether it’s here or down at Cardiff.

“If he strings hundreds together – and the reason we signed him is because we want him to score hundreds, double-hundreds, help us win games and be successful – it will be interesting to see where it may lead to.

“No one has got any idea whether Kevin Pietersen will play for England again.

“The only people that know that are those who are currently picking the England side.

“At the moment he’s not being considered, because he hasn’t played red ball cricket for the last 14 months.”

Hussain is impressed that Pietersen has already proved he is serious about a recall, and he is adamant the England and Wales Cricket Board must “watch out” for him.

“He could easily go off and get his IPL contract and play over there,” Hussain said on Sky Sports 2.

“He’s decided to give it another go… people say ‘Oh, 170 against Oxford – it was only Oxford’.

“But as a player who has played 100 Test matches to turn up at The Parks and smash 170 shows how determined he is – so I’d watch out, if I was a selector.”

Hussain senses Pietersen will not be easily deterred, unless England spell out that they do not want him.

“This is not a lad that’s going to go away, and the ECB need to make a decision on Kevin Pietersen – make a very public decision on him, whether he is available for selection or not,” he said.

“I know the chairman elect, Colin Graves, has said that he is.

“But it needs to come from the selectors.”

Pietersen believes last week’s departure of Paul Downton – the ECB managing director who described him as “disengaged” – has offered him an England “lifeline” even as he approaches the veteran stage of his record-breaking career.

Stewart, who played for England until the age of 40, added: “Whether you’re 18 or 38, if you’re good enough, then I believe you take the age factor out of the occasion.

“If you’re performing, surely you’ve got to be warranting a place in the team.”

He hopes Pietersen can boost Surrey’s championship promotion prospects, and was encouraged by his comeback.

“It was a very good innings,” Stewart added.

“He had to get used to playing red ball cricket again – lining it up, letting it go – and then he showed what a quality batsman he is, which we all know but we just haven’t seen it because he’s only played 20-over cricket.

“We’ve signed Kevin because he’s a top-class player.

“Will he play for England? We don’t know. All we’re going to do is enjoy having Kevin around, scoring as many runs as he can.

“Next game, next innings, is the next most important one.”

Pietersen had a quieter second day back in his whites.

He fielded at mid-off and slip as Surrey’s hosts dug in after resuming on 28 for four.

Jack McIver top-scored with 83, hitting 11 fours and a six, in the students’ 224 all out.

Chris Tremlett, another England Test player, took five for 30.

Surrey reshuffled their batting order in the second innings, and Pietersen was left to watch on as they reached 182 for three – Zafar Ansari making 53 towards a lead of 378 entering Tuesday’s final day.

Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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