Pietersen wants to face England
England were pleased to put 2014 behind them as they arrived in Australia, but the central figure of much of the angst and controversy of last year remains well within earshot as Kevin Pietersen said he wants to face his former team-mates after a spot opened up in the Prime Minister's XI.
Michael Hussey was due to captain the PM's XI in Canberra on Wednesday but injured his hamstring in the Big Bash League meaning the side need a replacement batsman. Pietersen put his hat in the ring while he was on the microphone during the Melbourne derby between the Stars and Renegades on Saturday.
"In the Prime Minister's game on Wednesday, Mr Michael Hussey's missed out. Jeez, I fancy that,'' Pietersen said while batting for the Stars.
Adam Gilchrist, commentating for Channel Ten, asked: "Are you telling us you're available?'' Pietersen replied: "Mate, I'm always available.''
Pietersen hit a run-a-ball 49 for the Stars, before falling to Ben Stokes, continuing his good run of form in the BBL which has included two half-centuries, although he was overshadowed by Glenn Maxwell's 66 off 44 deliveries.
Andrew Flintoff, who is playing for Brisbane Heat, suggested there would be no shortage of England bowlers keen to run in at Pietersen. "If @KP24 plays for the prime ministers XI they'll need a turnstile at the bowlers end, they'll be queuing up,'' he tweeted.
The PM's XI match is England's second, and final, warm-up fixture before the tri-series begins against Australia at the SCG on January 16. Their first hit out comes on Monday when they face an Australian Capital Territory XI.
Ian Bell, who was dropped after two ODIs in Sri Lanka, was given the chance to bat alongside Moeen Ali in the nets during an early training session which may offer a clue as to how England are considering lining up. In Sri Lanka, it was the sight of Moeen batting alongside Alastair Cook at training which indicated that would be the opening pair.
If Bell is given the chance to open it would appear to be another blow to Alex Hales' hopes although there is a chance Hales could be slotted in at No. 3. However, James Taylor enjoyed success in that position after being recalled in Sri Lanka, making scores of 90 and 68, to secure his passage to the World Cup.
Taylor has now admitted how much pressure he was under going into his first innings of that series - which was just his third ODI - following the suspension of Alastair Cook due to a slow over-rate which opened up a spot in the team.
"It was up to me to take that opportunity and I did it in those couple of games," Taylor said. "I knew from the outside I was put in a massively pressurised situation - if I didn't score runs I wasn't going to the World Cup. But I didn't really think about it, I jumped straight into the game situation and tried to focus on that as much as I could.''
"Obviously it's been a massively frustrating few years of not getting those consistent runs in the side but this winter has been a great opportunity to show what I can do to the selectors, coaches and the guys around the team.''