KP boosts England hopes

2015-05-11 20:00
Kevin Pietersen (Getty Images)

London - Kevin Pietersen is set for peace talks with new England chief Andrew Strauss after the exiled batsman blasted a career-best score of 326 not out on Monday to boost his hopes of an international recall.

Pietersen surpassed his previous first-class best of 254 in a mammoth innings for Surrey on day two of their County Championship Division Two match against Leicestershire at The Oval.

The 34-year-old's new record total came in just 373 balls as he smashed 34 fours and 14 sixes to all corners of the south London venue in Surrey's first innings total of 528 for nine.

It was a perfectly timed statement of intent from Pietersen, who has hoped for an England recall since being axed in the aftermath of their 2013-14 Ashes whitewash defeat in Australia.

And the South Africa-born star revealed immediately after that day's play that he is due to meet Strauss and England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison later on Monday to discuss his international prospects.

"They say timing is everything. He (Strauss) has come in, there's a new chairman on Friday or Saturday, there has to be a new coach, (Peter) Moores has gone," Pietersen said.

"I was told to go and get a county, I was told to score runs, I think I'm scoring runs.

"There is a meeting this evening and it's a totally private matter.

"I've got to be careful what I say; it's an interesting time, and what more can I do?"

After it looked unlikely he would ever play for England again, Pietersen heads into the talks with renewed belief he could yet face old rivals Australia in the Ashes later this year.

The first signs of hope came in March when incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves told Pietersen that runs for Surrey could provide the pathway he needs and he responded by agreeing a new contract with the county.

Pietersen has been further encouraged by the dismissal over the weekend of England coach Peter Moores, with whom he had an acrimonious power struggle during a previous spell in charge of the national team.

However, Strauss had an equally difficult relationship with Pietersen when he captained the volatile star, who reportedly fell out with several more of his international team-mates.

Pietersen had to admit sending "provocative" texts about Strauss to South Africa players in 2012 and last year Strauss, then working as a television pundit, embarrassingly let slip exactly what he thought of his former team-mate with an obscenity picked up on a stray broadcast mic.

Strauss is certain to be grilled about the situation when he holds his first press conference on Tuesday, before announcing the Test squad to face New Zealand at Lord's next week -- a match which Pietersen believes he should feature in.

"I've always said since my knee was sorted in Australia, if my knee's good, I'm going to play well," Pietersen said.

"I played well in the Big Bash, I gave up a contract in India, I'm not playing for any money here - I'm dedicated to getting back my England place.

"I want my England place, and I think I deserve my England place."

If Pietersen is able to convince Strauss he should be recalled, it would complete a remarkable few hours for the batsman, who had notched his first Championship double century since July 2012 earlier in the day and then passed his previous first-class best of 254 not out for Nottinghamshire against Middlesex in August 2002.

"The pressure I was under this morning, that's one of the best innings I've ever played - purely because I knew that (on Tuesday) there's a press conference, and I knew that there were things happening this evening," Pietersen added.

"So I knew that I needed to basically answer any questions with runs on the deck. And goodness: 326 is a pretty good argument."

Read more on:    surrey  |  kevin pietersen  |  cricket

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