The day before English cricket’s new Director, Andrew Strauss, faced the media for the first time, exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen ended the second day of Surrey’s County Championship clash with Leicestershire on 326 not out.
That evening the pair met where, as has now been confirmed, Strauss informed his former teammate that “it’s not in the best short-term interests of the side for him to be in the team.”
As Strauss explained the decision to the press at Lord’s, which he says is based on “eroded” trust between he and Pietersen and the Surrey man and the ECB, the South African-born batsman moved past 350 at The Oval.
It’s the kind of irony that has followed English cricket around since Pietersen was sacked from the side last winter. The mockery won’t be going away anytime soon either.
Strauss has, while impressing during his first interview as Director of Cricket, refused to rule Pietersen out of selection beyond the summer, saying “he’s not banned from the side, no one knows what’s going to happen in the future.”
Although the former England captain was composed and insightful with his answers at the home of cricket, he has failed to deliver the dollop of clarity the situation needed for all parties to successfully move on. Should Pietersen continue stacking up runs, the calls for his return will grow again. Do the ECB then scrabble around for another reason not to include him?
Right now, Pietersen cannot walk into the Test side immediately, even after his mammoth recent triple-century. Gary Ballance, Ian Bell and Joe Root have proven to be a fully-operable middle-order engine for the side in recent matches, but should any of them hit a barren patch, Pietersen is positioning himself nicely to take the reins.
That has, for now at least, been taken away from him, even though he has done all that was asked when a comeback was first mooted by ECB Chairman-elect Colin Graves.
All the more confusing, considering the complete lack of trust Strauss mentioned, is this offer the new man in charge is reported to have made Pietersen:
Andrew Strauss tells me that he’s offered @KP24 role as an advisor on one-day cricket. “He didn’t feel he was in a position to accept”
— Paul Kelso (@pkelso) May 12, 2015
What is certain is that the continued distractions make New Zealand a cracking price to win the upcoming Test series at 15/8.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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