Kevin Pietersen 'in talks' to make a shock return to the England team following humiliating Cricket World Cup exit

Pietersen called for changes to be made in the wake of the 15-run defeat to Bangladesh that meant they could not reach the quarter-finals

Kevin Pietersen is increasingly confident he can make a return to the England team following the side’s shambolic exit from the Cricket World Cup.

Pietersen is understood to have held conversations with intermediaries acting for the England and Wales Cricket Board, leading him to believe there may be a way back for him, after he was effectively sacked in February last year.

Colin Graves, the incoming ECB chairman, is thought to be open to a possible return to the side for Pietersen, who is confident of holding a meeting with the board, possibly as early as this month.

He is due to travel to Australia and New Zealand this week, where he will work as a pundit for BBC Test Match Special at the World Cup.

Were such a meeting to take place, it is logical to assume Graves would be present, as would Tom Harrison, the board’s new chief executive, and Paul Downton, the managing director of England Cricket, who played a key role in casting Pietersen aside.

 

Pietersen appeared to hint at the possibility when he tweeted: “I really do think changes are going to be made & positive things going to start to happen for the good of English cricket.”

But Downton moved swiftly to deny that he had personally been in contact with Pietersen. “He hasn’t asked me for a meeting,” he said. “As far as the ECB is concerned no position has changed.

“It’s not something that is at the forefront of the selectors’ minds now. We’ve got a group of players that we are working with and looking to progress the England team. Nothing has changed from where we were in the last year.”

Although there are many obstacles to clear, there now appears a possibility Pietersen might be in the England side for this summer’s Ashes – something that appeared unthinkable less than two weeks ago. But the landscape of English cricket has changed in that short time. Graves set the ball rolling by refusing to rule out a return for Pietersen in interviews on 1 March. The team’s dreadful performances at the World Cup, and consequent early exit, mean the calls for change are deafening.

Graves specified that Pietersen would need to play first-class cricket to merit consideration and both Hampshire and Somerset are interested in recruiting him, if Pietersen ignored his Indian Premier League deal to play in the County Championship.

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Pietersen has been playing Twenty20 cricket in Australia

If he did return, there would be severe consequences. When Downton dismissed Pietersen, he hung his hat on Test captain Alastair Cook, who no longer wanted Pietersen in his side.

National selector James Whitaker has said, “there is no way Pietersen will ever get back into an England team”. Peter Moores, the coach, is in his second spell with England – having lost the job along with the then captain Pietersen early in 2009, when the batsman said he could not work with Moores.

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