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Pietersen IPL deal, England comeback in balance

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Dobell: Pietersen wants to be back on big stage (3:50)

Melinda Farrell and George Dobell discuss the possibility of Kevin Pietersen abandoning his IPL contract and playing county cricket in order to win an England return (3:50)

Kevin Pietersen's involvement in the 2015 IPL hangs on a crisis meeting at Lord's on Tuesday that will examine England's response to a disastrous showing at the World Cup.

That Pietersen might withdraw entirely from the IPL in the hope of making an England comeback would be a remarkable twist in an extraordinary career, but that probability - first intimated by ESPNcricinfo - is becoming likelier by the day as a battle for the control of English cricket takes shape.

At that Lord's meeting, Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket and the man whose first act upon assuming the job a year ago was to end Pietersen's international career, will face further questions about the series of disasters that has bedevilled England, on and off the field, ever since the decision was made.

If Pietersen receives any encouragement from the outcome of those talks that his England career might potentially be revived, his representatives will immediately step up negotiations to release him from his contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the hope of one last hurrah in Test cricket.

It is also entirely possible that Downton, even if he avoided the sack, might regard his own position as untenable.

Sunrisers have made no comment on the situation but it is understood that IPL officials are already aware of the growing probability that Pietersen will want to withdraw.

Although, from the point of view of England or the player himself, that Sunrisers might challenge Pietersen's right to resume an international career might be regarded as beyond contemplation, the IPL franchise might feel that their auction strategy and subsequent marketing push demand that the player honours his contract - whatever the cost on both sides.

Money is not the prime motivation for Pietersen, who is perpetually excited by the fact that he might challenge all assumptions and commit himself to England in what would instantly become the most talked-about Ashes series in England since 2005 - his debut Test summer and one in which he was a prime force in England securing the Ashes in the final Test at The Oval.

It is The Oval, home of Surrey, which is strongly expected to provide the next chapter of the Pietersen story. Surrey released him at the end of last season - not only did they did not want to consider him as a Twenty20 specialist, there was the possibility of legal action over his impending autobiography to consider - but if he expresses a desire to play in all forms of the game then his return will be sanctioned.

Around six English counties have been in the running to provide a home for cricket's most controversial son, with some of them prepared to offer him a T20-only deal.

It is T20 which many observers believe offers Pietersen the best possibility of an England recall, culminating in a grand return at the World T20 in India next year, but it is the chance - however slim - of another shot at the Ashes which has energised him.

To achieve that, he would have to forego the glitz of the IPL and rouse himself in front of small crowds in Division Two of the County Championship, something that does not fit easily with him.

It is the dream of another Ashes fling which is his prime motivation. After the personal trauma of the past 14 months, the attraction of finishing his England career on a high clearly appeals.

Nevertheless, he must also have been disappointed by the outcome of the IPL auction when he failed to attract interest from the likes of Bangalore or Delhi but was picked up by Sunrisers at his base price of Rs 2 crore (£210,000).

If the Lord's meeting ended with an understanding that the Pietersen slate was wiped clean, it would point to the weakening authority not just of Downton but also of Andy Flower, the former England coach, who by the time he left the job after last winter's 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia was also of the mind that Pietersen should go.

The change of mood has been sparked by a new leadership team at the head of the ECB - the incoming chairman, Colin Graves, and chief executive, Tom Harrison.

Both are keenly aware of how English cricket is losing the hearts of a wide cross-section of the public. Downton suggested that Pietersen was disconnected with his team-mates after that Ashes disaster, but it is the disconnect between cricket and the nation that could bring about an astonishing development.