CPL news February 2, 2015

Has Pietersen bid farewell to English cricket?

Kevin Pietersen is to return to St Lucia Zouks for a second stint © LatinContent/Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen's messy divorce from English cricket has moved a step nearer completion with his announcement that he intends to play the whole of the Caribbean Premier League season in June and July.

Pietersen's guarantee of a total commitment to the tournament, where he will again play for St Lucia Zouks, seems to end his attempts of a year ago to share his time between the CPL and the NatWest Blast.

All hope is not quite lost yet that he could make a guest appearance in England in early season. With the IPL final not scheduled until June 1, he could conceivably be available for two or three Blast matches before his stint in the Caribbean, where the tournament runs from June 21 to July 26, but what remains to be seen is if any county will take him on those terms.

It appears that as far as Pietersen and cricket in England is concerned the end may be nigh.

Surrey released Pietersen at the end of last season - primarily a strategic move so that he was not employed by the county when his controversial autobiography was published, so seeking to lessen the threat of official censure.

Since then a stricter salary cap in 2015 has led Surrey to suggest privately that it had made Pietersen unaffordable but it could be that his desire to warm up for the Caribbean, and Surrey's recognition of his crowd-pulling appeal, might just enable a short-term relationship of convenience to be hastily patched up.

Such a deal would have to make light of his controversial criticism of many county professionals as "muppets who are on £18,000 or £15,000", accompanied by an invitation for them to find alternative employment if they did not raise their standards.

To commit to putting the CPL ahead of the NatWest Blast is an indication of where his priorities lie and is bound to irritate the ECB as it seeks to present the tournament as of equivalent standard to the market leaders, the IPL and BBL, and stave off criticism of the 18-county set-up.

Commenting on his return to the Caribbean, Pietersen said: "Being involved in CPL 2014 was a fantastic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed playing for the St. Lucia Zouks, albeit briefly. This year I will be available for the duration of the tournament so I hope to be able to make a bigger impact and give the Zouks fans something to shout about. The CPL is a very special event and I can't wait to get back out there to experience more of 'the biggest party in sport'."

Pietersen will privately be hoping for better fortunes in the six-team franchise. He joined the Zouks for the latter stages in 2014 and although his presence, alongside team captain, Darren Sammy, helped the Zouks beat the reigning champions, the Jamaica Tallawahs, as well as make their highest score of the season, they finished second from bottom.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments