Kevin Pietersen agrees IPL contract release from Sunrisers Hyderabad as England return appears on the cards

Pietersen is determined to return to the England set-up and his availability to play country cricket is another step towards that goal

Kevin Pietersen has agreed a release from his Indian Premier League contract as he seeks a new deal with Surrey to try to reignite his hopes of an England recall.

Pietersen was axed by England in February 2014 after their whitewash in Australia, but is hoping for a still unlikely international return in time for this summer's Ashes rematch.

He confirmed, on his website kevinpietersen.com that he has taken another key step to that end by agreeing a release from the majority of his contract with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Pietersen said: "I'm hugely grateful for all the support and understanding I've received from everyone at the Sunrisers and the IPL.

 

"My focus is now very much on the upcoming season in England, and I'm absolutely determined to score as many runs as possible."

Surrey de-registered Pietersen at the end of last season but have nonetheless long been front-runners to re-sign him.

His availability for all formats, as soon as possible, has appeared a starting point for that to happen - and Pietersen's presence in early season, rather than spending six weeks at the IPL, is therefore a key development.

New England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves this month revived the record-breaking 34-year-old batsman's hopes of a return to the fold, contrary to the public remarks by anyone else associated with the governing body.

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Kevin Pietersen had an IPL deal said to be worth £200,000

But a pre-requisite from Graves was that Pietersen must first of all find a way back into county cricket - and then, of course, start scoring runs again.

Pietersen may still be recalled by the Sunrisers for just a one-week period, should they qualify for the IPL knockout stages between May 19 and May 24.

That, however, ought not to be an insurmountable problem for any county interested in securing his services.

He added: "I've never made any secret of my overwhelming desire to once again represent England, and I'm going to do everything in my power to earn a recall to the international set-up.

"To once again put on that England shirt would be a privilege and an honour, but now I have to focus on performing domestically and give myself the best possible chance of meriting selection."

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Pietersen played for the Delhi Daredevils

A statement on his website spelled out Pietersen's next move - without specifying Surrey as his immediate destination - and that he has his heart set on an England return in time for the start of the Ashes in July.

It read: "The four-time Ashes winner, who is also England's highest ever runscorer in all formats, will ... join a domestic county with the aim of earning a place in the England squad for the upcoming Ashes series."

Pietersen quickly made it clear at the start of this month that he was delighted to take Graves at his word, that the slate will be wiped clean for all under his tenure, and he has since confirmed he has already spoken to the incoming chairman on the telephone.

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Pietersen has not played for England since the 2013/14 Ashes tour of Australia

The controversial South Africa-born batsman has received little encouragement yet from other quarters.

ECB managing director Paul Downton pinpointed Pietersen's 'disengagement' with his team-mates during his last Test match to date - the defeat in Sydney which consigned England to their 5-0 2013/14 Ashes whitewash.

Downton has not shifted from that in the intervening months.

When England announced their squad last week, to travel under Alastair Cook and without Pietersen for three Tests in the West Indies, national selector James Whitaker repeated many times that he is simply "not part of our plans".

Pietersen, however, has said he will "do anything" to play for England again.

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