England's Pietersen dilemma October 2, 2012

Pietersen likely to be offered ECB contract

Andy Flower, the ECB team director, is expecting some clarity over the Kevin Pietersen situation to emerge within the next couple of days.*

Pietersen became a free agent on Monday when his ECB central contract expired but he is expected to be offered a new 12-month deal although that it may not mean a swift return to the team.

"The situation is ongoing. I think it's nearing an end now - in a positive way, I hope," Flower said. "There's been a lot of formal communication between the ECB and Kevin, and there will be a press conference I would imagine in the next 36 hours which will enlighten you a little further."

However, Flower hinted that it was too soon to talk about Pietersen's place in the team. "We don't close doors to anyone," he said. "If we get over that first stage first and get some of the formal legal proceedings out of the way, then we'll get on to the cricket thereafter."

Pietersen has been working as TV pundit in Sri Lanka over the last couple of weeks during the World Twenty20 and has held a number of meetings Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, after he was left off the original contract list that was named last month. It is expected that Pietersen will be told to make another public apology to go alongside the private conversations he has had with Alastair Cook, Andy Flower and the former captain Andrew Strauss.

Pietersen has said he will commit to all cricket for England and not play a full IPL - a stance first voiced in his YouTube video the day before he was dropped - having previously retired from ODIs which forced him to quit Twenty20.

However, he is still expected to play for Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League T20 which starts next week and there are a number of Big Bash League franchises interested in signing him and that tournament takes place in December and January. Closer to home an ECB contract will make it simpler for Pietersen to remain on Surrey's books as his salary will be paid by the board.

Pietersen has been on the outside since he was left out of the final Test against South Africa when it was revealed he sent 'provocative' texts to South African players at Headingley. He has since apologised for the messages, although the exact content remains in doubt as there is no physical evidence.

With the ECB suits appearing ready to sign-off on Pietersen's return it is now a question of how Flower will feel about the situation and how soon he believes Pietersen can be brought back into the fold. Given that the Test squad for the India series has already been named that appears too soon, but there are two Twenty20s before Christmas and the one-day leg afterwards which are both possibilities although the tour of New Zealand may provide a cleaner starting point.

*This is an updated version of a story posted on October 1

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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