KP returns to drive the selectors nuts

Marquee batsman may (or may not) return to ODIs while Bopara is set for five-day recall

England's selectors might have expected an easy time of it this summer. In which case, they reckoned without the continuing Kevin Pietersen soap opera.

Their chosen teams are winning in all formats and doing it with some style. The issues before them for the most important assignment of the season, the imminent Test series against South Africa, appeared to be rather welcome and straightforward – whether to tweak one batting and one bowling spot.

And then along came Kev. Having announced his retirement from international limited-overs cricket to general regret it now seems that he may want to reconsider. It is as if he cannot bear to be out of the spotlight.

Instead of spending their deliberations on whether Ravi Bopara has done enough to replace Jonny Bairstow (or whether Bairstow has not done enough to keep his place) and on the merits of Steve Finn compared to Tim Bresnan, they have been diverted.

Pietersen had dropped several hints. It is unlikely that he has missed the England one-day dressing room so much that he desires an immediate return, but he is so desperate to play in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September that he may be prepared to compromise. He feels his case has been buttressed by the support of some illustrious figures who have said that England got it wrong and should have allowed Pietersen to drop out of one-day internationals and continue playing Tests and T20s.

The national selector, Geoff Miller, made it clear yesterday that their position was unchanged. Pietersen would not be considered for T20 while being unavailable for ODIs.

"I have had no discussions with Kevin or his agents about his return to ODIs," said Miller. "I can't comment on whether he will be in the squad for the World Twenty20 but our position hasn't altered and won't be altering."

But Pietersen may have been speaking to England's managing director, Hugh Morris. The undoubted fascination with what he is up to extends into the dressing room. When Pietersen gave a newspaper interview this week, the players were virtually falling over themselves to see what he had to say.

With a 4-0 win against Australia in the bag, the one-day team led by Alastair Cook may not be missing Pietersen as he might have expected or others feared. The T20 XI may be a different matter but the constant will he/won't he is wearing.

The composition of the starting XI will not be fully clear when a squad of 13 is announced tomorrow. It will contain both Finn and Bresnan with Graham Onions, who was more impressive than Finn when they both played in England's most recent Test, another possibility.

If England were to select seven batsmen, four seamers, a spinner and a wicketkeeper that might cloud the issue of the final XI further – with all of Bairstow, Bopara, Bresnan and Finn included.

The probability is that Bairstow will be sent back to Yorkshire to regroup. Obviously talented, he did not quite settle to the demands of Test cricket.

If England still have a few injury doubts regarding Bresnan and Graeme Swann, who both have sore elbows, they are nothing compared to South Africa's woes.

Having lost their wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, to a lacerated eyeball caused by a flying bail earlier this week, it was announced yesterday that the 21-year-old fast bowler Marchant de Lange has a stress fracture in the lower back and will go home.

De Lange would probably not have featured in the first choice XI this summer but he has already shown his vast potential, taking 7 for 81 in his maiden Test against Sri Lanka in Durban late last year.

Probable squad

For first Test against South Africa, starting on Thursday at The Oval:

Age Tests

A J Strauss (capt) 35 97

J M Anderson 29 70

R S Bopara 27 12

I R Bell 30 77

T T Bresnan 27 14

S C J Broad 26 47

A N Cook 27 80

S T Finn 23 14

G Onions 29 9

K P Pietersen 32 86

M J Prior (wkt) 30 55

G P Swann 33 44

I J L Trott 31 31

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam