Pietersen told to force the issue

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Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Kevin Pietersen has been told 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 for Surrey against MCC Universities Oxford at The Parks on Sunday, the first day of the three-day pre-season warm-up game.

The 34-year-old’s impressive return to long-form cricket 14 months after his England sacking was timely, coming on the eve of the first Test with the West Indies, which began 4,000 miles away in Antigua on Monday.

Surrey director of cricket Alec 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 (in the County Championship opener with Glamorgan).

“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.”

Pietersen believes last week’s departure of Paul Downton – the ECB managing director who described the batsman as “disengaged” – has offered him an England “lifeline”.

The 34-year-old also says he is playing as well as ever and free of a niggling knee problem, suggesting he has many years left at the top level.

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.”

Pietersen’s return to cricket whites, after playing Twenty20 in leagues around the world since his England exit, attracted a large audience to The Parks and plaudits, despite the admittedly limited standard of student opposition.

Stewart hopes Pietersen can help Surrey’s County Championship promotion push, beginning with their season opener against Glamorgan, which starts on Sunday.

“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, he’s played for us before.

“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.”

Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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