'Kevin Pietersen not part of England's plans'

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London, Mar 19: The prospects of an England recall for Kevin Pietersen look bleak after the maverick batsman was told he still doesn't figure in the national team's plans and comments in his explosive autobiography may have caused irreparable damage.

Pietersen, England's all-time leading run-scorer in all formats, was ditched after last year's Ashes tour to Australia because of his perceived negative influence in the dressing room.

File photo of Kevin Pietersen

The South African-born batsman was given hope of a potential return in recent comments by the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, but national selector James Whitaker appeared to rule out the chance of another Pietersen comeback.

"Over the last 12 months, we have been successfully rebuilding our test team," Whitaker said at England's squad announcement for the upcoming tour of West Indies.

"And over the last few days, he wasn't party to any discussion. "He's not part of our plans." England captain Alastair Cook didn't give his former teammate much encouragement, either.

Pietersen gave a withering critique of a number of England's players and coaching staff past and present in an autobiography released in October, and Cook said that hadn't been forgotten.

"There's been a hell of a lot of stuff happened, with his book and all that kind of stuff," Cook told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. "It's a long way back from that." Of Pietersen's chances of England recall, Cook added: "It's very unlikely."

'I am looking forward to playing at Surrey'

Pietersen appears willing to turn his back on a lucrative Pietersen appears willing to turn his back on a lucrative Indian Premier League contract to ensure his availability for English county cricket ahead of test series against New Zealand and Australia.

That is on the back of comments from new ECB chairman Colin Graves, who said last month that players would be picked on performance and not personality when he takes over the role in May.

Graves suggested impressive first-class performances with a county could provide Pietersen with a pathway back to the England team. Surrey is widely regarded as the favourite to re-sign Pietersen, should he secure a release from his arrangement to play in the IPL.

And Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who will play for Surrey this year, let it slip on Wednesday that the county had tied up a deal for Pietersen.

"I'm looking forward to playing at Surrey and working with (coach) Graham Ford and KP's coming back, I hear, so that'll be very exciting in the dressing room," Sangakkara said.

"He'll be fantastic anywhere he plays - he's just a magnificent player. He's been through some tough times (and) I'm sure that will shape the way he is as a person and have him thinking things through.I'm sure he's looking forward to knocking on that (England) door, and hopefully getting in."

Pietersen told the BBC he was still exploring his options. "If I can do anything that can help me get back into it for England, then it's something I want to do," Pietersen said. "I love playing for England."

AP

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