County news June 17, 2010

Pietersen to leave Hampshire

George Dobell

Kevin Pietersen has announced he will leave Hampshire at the end of the season. He has not played a Championship match at The Rose Bowl since breaking into the Test team in 2005 and made his first appearance in two years on Sunday in the Friends Provident t20.

Afterwards, when pressed about his future at the club, he replied: "Geographically it just doesn't work. I live in Chelsea."

On Thursday he said: "I have not had much opportunity to play for Hampshire but I want to thank the players, staff, chairman and fans, for the support I have had during my time at The Rose Bowl. Hampshire is a great club and I wish them well for the future."

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove said: "Given England's critical dependence on KP in all forms of cricket, we have not seen anything like as much of him as we would have liked over the past six years."

Pietersen's desire to be in London would appear to limit his options for a move considerably. Middlesex and Surrey are the only clubs with easy reach of his home. If neither express any interest, it is possible he could become a 'freelance'. It is understood that a move to Middlesex is likely.

"I don't blame Kevin, but these international players are now owned almost entirely by England," Bransgrove told Cricinfo before Pietersen's announcement. "He supports us the best he can when he's here, but the ECB's policy of releasing player for their counties is quite opaque and I don't understand it. The England management rule the roost. I've given up asking for them to release Kevin for Hampshire games."

Bransgrove expressed particular disappointment over Pietersen's availability for T20 cricket. Pietersen has played only two domestic T20 matches for Hampshire in six seasons. "The ECB have also shown no commitment to the competition," Bransgrove said. "Our international player was only available for one game. We really need to grasp the opportunity of T20, but it's almost gone now."

To exacerbate matters, the England management withdrew Pietersen from a question and answer session arranged for a dinner at the Rose Bowl on the eve of the ODI against Australia. "I'm extremely hacked off," Bransgrove said.

Meanwhile Hampshire are also reeling from the news that Kabir Ali will miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury. Kabir, who has the best strike-rate of any bowler in county cricket, joined the club from Worcestershire at the end of last year.

"It's very sad news," Bransgrove said. "We thought he'd take at least 50 wickets for us and he started the season bowling beautifully. But it's a serious injury - much like that suffered by Simon Jones - and we'll have to work very hard to get him ready for next season."

To complete a thoroughly miserable day, the club have also reluctantly accepted that Ajantha Mendis, the Sri Lankan spinner they hoped would represent them for most of the season, will not be available at all.

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