Hampshire not interested in Pietersen for Finals Day
Kevin Pietersen has wished his Hampshire colleagues the best of luck for their Friends Provident t20 semi-final against Essex on Saturday, after the county confirmed he won't be selected for the showpiece finals day at the Rose Bowl, despite being one of four England players made available for county duty by the England coach Andy Flower.
In a statement, Hampshire confirmed that the club's policy regarding Pietersen remains the same as when they declined to select him for a CB40 match against Kent last month, a move that stemmed from his comments earlier in the season, in which he confirmed he'd be leaving Hampshire when his contract expires at the end of the summer. He said the commute from his home in Chelsea made it impractical for him to continue at The Rose Bowl and Middlesex are currently the favourites to gain his signature.
"The decision remains consistent with the club's policy to stand by the players who have performed well for them in limited-overs cricket so far this season," read a statement from the county.
"Hampshire would like to re-iterate that this is, by no means, a reflection on Kevin Pietersen as a player or as an individual. However, since Kevin has already made it clear that he intends to play cricket elsewhere next season, the club believes the teams' best interests are best served by selecting those who have performed so well so far this season, many of whom are aspiring England players, themselves."
Pietersen responded in a post on his Twitter page, in which he played down any perceived falling-out. "I fully understand Hampshire's position in not selecting me for finals day," he wrote. "I wish them all the best on the day. I will be watching the lads!"
Although Pietersen made a significant contribution to England's nine-wicket victory against Pakistan at Edgbaston his 80 was a horribly scratchy innings which included three clear-cut dropped chances. Another innings before the third Test at The Oval, and in a format that would allow Pietersen to express himself, may have been welcome but Hampshire are sticking to the batting line-up that has impressed in the tournament to date, with the likes of Michael Lumb, Michael Carberry, Neil McKenzie and James Vince all making contributions.
"We are very pleased to be involved in Finals Day, particularly at The Rose Bowl," said Hampshire's chairman, Rod Bransgrove. "The players who have got the Royals to this point have made their county and everyone associated with the club very proud. We would, therefore, like to stand by them.
"We wish Kevin and England all the very best for the future and all their forthcoming internationals. We look forward to welcoming them back to The Rose Bowl for the England v Pakistan NatWest One-Day International at The Rose Bowl on September 22."
Hampshire's opponents in the semi-final, Essex, will have Alastair Cook available after he was also made available but that also poses some interesting selection questions. Cook would open the batting, but the combination of Mark Pettini and Ravi Bopara have proved successful in his absence and Cook's current form is woeful after a tough time against Pakistan.
However, Nottinghamshire are unlikely to have any issues including Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann in their starting line-up against Somerset for the other semi-final. Swann was named Man-of-the-Match in the second Test against Pakistan after a career-best 6 for 65 in the second innings and Broad also bagged six wickets in the game, although lost half his match fee after hurling the ball at Zulqarnain Haider on the third day.
"We will select the best players available to us and Stuart and Graeme will add significant strength to our team," said director of cricket Mick Newell. "We've used a lot of players to get to finals day and everyone has made a good contribution.
"I'll talk to the players who will have to make way for Stuart and Graeme but everyone understands that we will pick the team that will give us the best possible chance of winning the match and progressing to the final."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo