Pietersen blames schedule for one-day exit
Kevin Pietersen has blamed his decision to retire from limited-overs international cricket on England's unrelenting schedule but reiterated his desire to play in the World T20 in September.
In a thinly-veiled attack on the ECB, Pietersen utilised the close of play press conference on the fourth day of the third Test at Edgbaston to criticise the schedule of the England team and what he suggested were unreasonable demands placed upon the shoulders of players. Pietersen, 31, the player of the tournament when England won the World T20 in 2010, said his heavy schedule was in danger of making him fall out of love with the game but expressed a hope that the ECB would "change the rules" and allow him to participate in the World T20.
Pietersen announced his decision to retire from all limited-overs international cricket just over a week ago. While he had not wanted to retire from the international T20 format, the nature of ECB central contracts dictates that a player has to be available for both forms of the limited-overs game to be considered for either. The ECB fear that if players are allowed to pick and choose their games or their formats, then their ODI side will be hit by several high-profile withdrawals.
"I've said I'll play the T20 World Cup," Pietersen said. "If they want me to play the T20 World Cup, I'll play the T20 World Cup. But contracts are contracts.
"I'd had enough of the schedule. I can't carry on doing everything. I play every single form of cricket that there is. I play the IPL and I've the Champions League in October. Apart from MS Dhoni, I've played the most days of international cricket over the past seven years. There comes a time when some form of the game has to be taken out of my schedule. One-day cricket was it.
"It is a shame, but that is schedules we have. If the schedules weren't like that, or I played for another country where you had months and months occasionally to rest and recuperate, or if I had the opportunities to be rested things might be different. But you don't get those opportunities when you play for England. So I had to make a decision. You know what that decision is.
"I can't play at my peak - I can't keep on playing every single game and enjoying every single game - when I have to play every single form of cricket, or when I have to train every single day. You fall out of love with it. And I want to still play cricket until I'm 35."
The England schedule is undeniably heavy. After a desperately hectic summer, including internationals games against West Indies, Australia, South Africa and Scotland, those members of the squad who play all three formats of the game will spend less than two weeks in the UK from late October to early April. For those involved in the World T20, that period will be even further extended.
Pietersen's argument is partially flawed, however. The ECB do not oblige him to participate in the IPL or the Champions League - other players have, at times, chosen to use such periods for rest - and the entire squad did enjoy the best part of two months off ahead of the tour to the UAE. He has also been rested from limited-overs games in the past. However Pietersen suggested his decision was not motivated by a desire to play more T20 competitions around the world - "I'm not playing the Big Bash," he said - but simply by a desire to rest physically and mentally and to spend more time with his family.
"Of course it was a difficult decision," he said. "I'm giving up something. It was a very difficult decision, but waking up the next day I was absolutely buzzing: no regrets at all. I've moved on. I don't want to talk about it. It's done and dusted and it would be unfair to this Test for me to create headlines talking about it. I've finished with one-day cricket and T20 - unfortunately - was a part of that."
Pietersen expects to play his next competitive game in the Friends Life T20 for Surrey against Sussex at The Oval on July 3. He will then play two more T20 matches before participating in the championship match against Lancashire at Guildford beginning on July 11 ahead of the Test series against South Africa.
"I'm having a break until the beginning of July," he said. "I'm going to continue hitting balls throughout June because I think I need to; I want to try and keep myself in this nick. But I will be going on breaks with the family."
Pietersen was adamant that he would have no mixed feelings knowing that his England teammates were in action against Australia in the forthcoming ODI series. "No chance," he said. "Absolutely no chance. I'll be enjoying time off with my family. If I had wanted to play those one-dayers, I would have played them. I'll be enjoying my time off."
But he did admit that he hoped a solution could be found to his stand-off with the ECB whereby he could play in the World T20. He said the T20 format was "definitely" taking over from the ODI format as T20 "is fun, it is exciting and people come and watch it".
"I hope so," he said, when asked if he thought he might still play in the World T20. "But I've been through this with the ECB. I don't know; they'd have to change the rules."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo