Kevin Pietersen's deal to play for Surrey this summer has been confirmed. It had long been anticipated that he would return to The Oval after securing a release from his IPL contract. He will now be available for Surrey's opening County Championship match of the season, against Glamorgan, on April 19 in Cardiff.
Despite some cynicism over whether Pietersen would go through with his intention to commit to county cricket, he is now targeting an England recall. A significant weight of runs will be required to state his case, particularly considering Surrey are in Division Two of the County Championship, but Tom Moody - coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad who agreed to release Pietersen from IPL duty - said England "would be foolish" not to consider a fit and in-form Pietersen.
Writing in the Telegraph Pietersen said: "All I am looking for is a fair opportunity to play for England again. I just want a blank sheet of paper and to be judged on merit. Even if this does not work out and I do not get back in the England team, I will at least end my career knowing I gave it another shot. I would kick myself for a long time if I walked away now without having a go." He also said his Surrey wages would go to charity.
Surrey have fixtures against Glamorgan, Essex and Leicestershire before England's first Test of the summer against New Zealand on May 21. But perhaps July 8 is a more realistic date for a return - the start of the Ashes.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to be back at Surrey," Pietersen said. "It's a club very close to my heart and Alec Stewart, Graham Ford and everyone at the club has been exceptionally supportive. There is a fantastic group of lads here and hopefully we can deliver what the great Surrey fans want to see - lots of runs and comprehensive victories."
Pietersen release from the IPL came with a clause that Hyderabad could recall him should they reach the knockout stage, which begins on May 19. That would see Pietersen miss Surrey's Championship match with Northamptonshire.
Alec Stewart, Surrey director of cricket, added: "A Kevin Pietersen with ambitions to play for England and a real determination to score big runs for Surrey will be a huge asset to us. He will play predominantly championship cricket to begin with. That's not to say we won't see him in the shorter versions of the game, but to begin with it's very much championship cricket."