Kevin Pietersen likely to enter IPL auction

South African-born England player released by Delhi but unlikely to return to Surrey

England’s Kevin Pietersen has been released by IPL side Delhi. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

England’s Kevin Pietersen has been released by IPL side Delhi. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

 

Kevin Pietersen has yet to commit himself to an Indian Premier League franchise for 2014 but is far more likely to respond to Delhi’s decision not to retain his registration by entering the IPL auction next month rather than play more County Championship cricket with Surrey this spring.

On another confusing day in the latest Pietersen drama, it appeared for some time that he would be returning to Delhi, now coached by Gary Kirsten, with his recent Ashes adversary David Warner, as a number of Indian reports claimed that the Daredevils had taken up the option to retain both.

That would have stymied any remote chance of Pietersen being persuaded by the England and Wales Cricket Board to demonstrate his determination to prolong his international career by agreeing to forsake the riches of the IPL to spend more time batting against a red ball with Surrey. However, that must remain the longest of shots, even though those early reports turned out to be incorrect when the Daredevils – who finished bottom of the IPL table last season when Pietersen was out with a knee injury – announced that they would not be retaining any players.

There has been no confirmation yet that Andy Flower, the England team director, will request any change to the compromise, hammered out in lengthy negotiations between the ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association last year, that allows contracted players to stay longer than previously in the IPL.

They are not required home until May 13th, well over halfway through the IPL which begins in early April, although still before the business end of the competition. But the main reason for the extension of the window – a reshaped international schedule which now begins with one Twenty20 game and a five-match one-day series against Sri Lanka before the first Test of the summer starts at Lord’s on 12 June – has caused fresh problems, as a result of the sudden demise of England’s Test team.

Pietersen, and any other England players who stay in the IPL until mid-May, would then come straight into the one-day series, and therefore go into that first Test of the summer with a maximum of one County Championship fixture behind them.

Hence the suggestions that Flower may now want all his established Test players back in England to play some first-class cricket in April and May before the one-day matches start.

The ECB will be made aware of Pietersen’s plans by the end of the month, as the paperwork requesting permission for him to enter the IPL auction must be lodged with them in the next fortnight. Paul Downton, the ECB’s new managing director of England cricket who is conducting a review into the Ashes debacle, does not have a great deal of time.

Guardian Service

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