Kevin Pietersen claims he ‘loves Surrey’ and will not rule out a return to county cricket
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has not ruled out playing county cricket again next season.
Pietersen who has been contracted to Surrey since 2010, although he only played in the T20 Blast competition last summer.
The South African-born batsman said he would make a decision about his playing future over the next couple of months but insisted he had been in contact with Surrey, where his mentor Graham Ford is head coach.
‘I am definitely going to give it some thought over the next couple of months as to how I need to finish off my career because I look at the situation and think they are not going to pick me for the Ashes next year,’ Pietersen said.
‘I don’t want to make quick decisions and I want to give it some time, give it some thought.
‘I am in contact with Surrey because I love Surrey and Graham Ford, my mentor, is the coach there. I get on so well with Alec Stewart and the lads in the dressing room there.
‘So if I decide that I want to continue playing and basically play for the next four or five years then, yes, it is something I am basically going to make happen in the next couple of months.’
Since arriving in the UK from South Africa as a teenager, Pietersen has played county cricket for Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and now Surrey and amassed 104 Test appearances for England.
Pietersen was speaking during a Q&A event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival with Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, who ghost wrote his controversial autobiography published last week.
In the book Pietersen made several allegations, including claims of a bullying culture in the England dressing room.
Former head coach Andy Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Prior were particuarly singled out for criticism.
Following England’s disastrous 5-0 whitewashing in the Ashes last winter in Australia, Flower stood down and Pietersen was told his Test career was over.
Pietersen insisted that he would love to bat for England again and ‘would do anything to go and play’.
‘I would 100% commit everything I could to bat. I would do anything to go and play,’ Pietersen said.
‘The frustrating thing about this last summer is that England have now got a team where that bullying side looks like it has faded away and there are a lot of youngsters in that side that I got on really well with, who I helped out with their cricket.
‘The sad thing is that I can be lying on the sofa the night before an international game and I can get a text message from players in the team asking me advice on how to play the opposition the next day.
‘That makes me happy that they are asking me on how to play the next day when they should probably be going to their coach and also with sadness because I should still be in that team helping these guys bat and helping in team meetings and playing in games because that’s where we could all benefit.’
Pietersen also said that he would not have any problems playing under new head coach Peter Moores – who he likens in his book to a ‘woodpecker tapping on our heads all day’ during his first spell as England boss.
When I did have my issues with Moores they were as a captain,’ Pietersen told the Cheltenham audience.
‘I said to the chairman of the ECB, I cannot captain with Moores, let me go back and bat. So I could easily go and bat, batting would not be an issue.’
But he felt it was unlikely that he would ever be recalled by England while Giles Clarke remained chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
‘I said it before that I think the chairman might have to make way,’ Pietersen said.
‘Whether that happens I don’t know. If it happens, it happens and said earlier that what will be, will be. I live in hope. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
‘They might wake up tomorrow and decide enough’s enough and this PR battle that is going on at the moment is not good for English cricket, I am certainly not proud of this PR battle but I’ve had to tell my side of the story.’
One member of the audience asked Pietersen why England were such a successful team in recent years if Andy Flower was such a bad coach.
‘We had some very, very good players who were at the peak of their careers and no matter who coached them we would have been successful,’ the South African replied.
Pietersen agreed with the comments last week of former England captain Andrew Strauss, who said the biggest loser in the wake of the publication of his book was the England team.
‘I do agree with that and I don’t like it and as I said I am not proud of it but what I am incredibly proud of is having the opportunity and the ability to sit down with David over the last few months and get my side of the story out,’ Pietersen said.
‘I’ve had too many times where my character has been assassinated with Flower being able to drive it one way, hammer me about injuries, nail me about this, go over me about that, and so I have just had my opportunity to come out and put my side of the story out and just leave it.
‘It’s a sad state where English cricket is but it doesn’t have to be there now, it should have been sorted with a decent coach.’
For nearly an hour-and-a-half Pietersen spoke about some of the demons that affected his playing career, such as knowing when he walked out to the crease whether he would get a good score or not.
‘In the recent Ashes series we played in Australia I walked out to the wicket at Adelaide and I got out for nine. I walked down the wicket and hit Peter Siddle straight to mid-wicket and George Bailey caught me,’ he said.
‘I knew how I had got out and I knew I was lucky to get nine. But I got crucified – selfish, reckless, careless, why did you play the shot, why did you do this.
‘I’m a ‘feel’ player and I’ll know as soon as I get out to the wicket and touch my bat on the ground I know whether I am going to have a good day or a bad day.
‘It’s just the most ridiculous thing – the hours I put into training. I can walk out to the wicket and I can stand there and go ‘Oh shit’ – or walk out and think ‘good luck you lot’.
‘There are certainly those days that I feel horrendous.
‘It has probably been my biggest struggle and I remember working a lot with the psychologists. If I walk out there and I am not feeling good how can I still get to 10?
‘Because getting to 10 for me was everything because as soon as I got to double figures I knew I was home and away. Until I got there I knew it was only me who would get myself out.
‘Good coaches and captains would understand, Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan did.
‘That day in Adelaide when I hit Siddle to mid-wicket why the hell was I trying to do that? It just doesn’t make sense.’
Pietersen said he was already planning for future after his career ends.
‘I have been quite clever when I have been playing to set up quite a few businesses. The most exciting thing I have going at the moment is my cricket school in Dubai, which opens next month,’ he said.
‘My foundation is going to run alongside that. I love coaching kids and I love giving advice, encouraging… I love seeing people do well. I love coaching and I love giving back and I’ve set up this cricket school purely for that.
‘If I get one or two of those guys that come through my academy end up being international players it would make me so proud.’