Contract dispute set for court January 16, 2004

Pietersen seeks release from Nottinghamshire

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen: 'I cannot play for Notts any more'
© Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen's uneasy truce with Nottinghamshire finally ended with the news that he is planning to take the county to court to try and force them to release him from the remaining year of his contract.

Pietersen, South African-born but qualified to play for England from September, is keen to start afresh. "I cannot play for Notts any more," he told the Daily Telegraph. "I have told them and if they do not allow me to leave I shall have to take legal action. A number of counties are interested in me. I would prefer to play in the First Division."

Pietersen's reported disquiet was fuelled by a public bust-up with Jason Gallian, Nottinghamshire's captain, on the final day of last season which ended with Gallian allegedly throwing Pietersen's kit off the Trent Bridge balcony and then breaking his bat.

"During the game I told the captain that I was not happy and that I wanted to leave," Pieterson admitted. "After the game we spoke in the dressing room and then I went to have dinner. I got a call saying the captain had trashed my equipment. I was told the captain had said, 'if he does not want to play for Notts he can f*** off.' I have not spoken to Gallian since, nor have I received an apology."

Nottinghamshire officials were keen to pass the matter off as a heat-of-the-moment incident, but Pietersen is not so forgiving. Mick Newell, the county's director of cricket, said that it was the kind of thing which happens in sport - "Like managers kicking boots and throwing tea cups".

But he was less forgiving about Pietersen wanting out. "We feel this is a matter of principle," he explained. "He has a contract and he should fulfil it. We gave him a chance in English cricket."

Pietersen's lawyer sees things differently. "What Gallian has done is tantamount to a breach of contract," he said, "and a sportsman should have the same protection as any other employee."

Pietersen, who scored 1,546 runs at an average of 51.53 last summer, needs to play cricket to further his claims for an England place next winter. If his attempts to distance himself from Nottinghamshire fail then he will have little choice but to swallow his pride and play for them in 2004. If he succeeds, there will be no shortage of counties willing to sign one of the brightest talents on the county circuit.