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Luke Wright, the man likely to be charged with filling the void left by Kevin Pietersen at the top of England’s batting order, has spoken of his regret that the axed star will not be part of their Twenty20 World Cup campaign.
Pietersen had his contract terminated by the England and Wales Cricket Board following the disastrous tour to Australia which also saw coach Andy Flower step down and offspinner Graeme Swann quit.
The controversial 33-year-old was the player of the tournament when England won the T20 World Cup in 2010 but will not feature on the upcoming West Indies tour, or next month’s global tournament in Bangladesh after his latest fall-out with the ECB.
Wright says it is unfortunate that a compromise could not have been found. ‘Of course it’s a shame from both sides that Kevin’s not playing,’ he said. ‘In an ideal world he’d still be playing and England would be really happy with him.
‘He’s not actually played that much for the Twenty20 side in recent times. But at the end of the day he’s a world-class player and he wants to play. It’s disappointing for him and the ECB that it’s come to this.’
Pietersen would have been the first name on the team sheet in Bangladesh. Instead, he must now settle for a money-spinning lifestyle as a freelance cricketer similar to that adopted in recent years by Wright, who has enjoyed success for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash as well as stints in the IPL and other T20 tournaments.
But despite jetting around the world as cricket’s equivalent of a hired gun, Wright says nothing beats international cricket. ‘Kevin’s never going to struggle from the financial side of it or from playing abroad and having great fun,’ he said. ‘But he’s going to be disappointed not playing for England as I have been in the past. Playing for your country is the pinnacle and you do really miss that.’
Last week Pietersen became the only England-qualified player to be picked up in the Indian Premier League auction when he was retained for £880,000 by the Dehli Daredevils while 10 other English players were overlooked.
Lack of availability has been cited as the main reason for English players not being snapped up — with the IPL tournament clashing with the start of the county season — but Sussex’s Wright insists the compensation demanded by counties means they are effectively priced out of the market.
‘People don’t understand we have to pay huge compensation to the counties if we want to play in the IPL,’ he said. ‘It ends up being about 50per cent of your wages for the whole summer when you’re missing only three or four games.’ – Mail On Sunday