Centurion, Pretoria – Controversial England batsman Kevin Pietersen struck 14 runs off 18 balls when he ended his cricket exile Saturday by playing for Delhi Daredevils in a Champions League Twenty20 game.
Batting at No 3 for the Indian Premier League franchise in a first round pool match at SuperSport Park, Pietersen tried an on-side pull off Brett Lee and was caught by Sunil Narine at deep mid-wicket.
Pietersen managed just one four in his first appearance since being sidelined by England during a summer Test series against South Africa following a text message storm.
The South Africa-born batsman allegedly criticised England teammates – including highly respected skipper Andrew Strauss – in texts sent to rival players.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier later alleged in a radio interview that Pietersen was provoked into texting the South Africans, but the claim was swiftly denied.
“Absolute rubbish,” said Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul while the national cricket players' association demanded that Collier apologise.
Pietersen is keen to resume his international career and there has been media speculation that he may be added to the England squad for a tour of India from November.
“Playing cricket for England is the pinnacle of any career and I want an opportunity to do that again as soon as possible,” Pietersen said after mending relations with his adopted country.
“Some of the proudest and best moments of my life have been in an England shirt and I want them to continue for as long as possible. I am entirely committed to completing the reintegration process.
“That will take place over the coming weeks and I then want to resume by England career in all formats, hopefully until the 2015 World Cup, as long as my body allows.”
Fast bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson are looking forward to the return of Pietersen, who made his Test debut for England in mid-2005 against Australia.
“The team have no issue with 'KP' coming back if the management decide he is ready to. It is in their hands at the moment. From a team perspective his integration will be easy,” said Twenty20 skipper Broad.
Anderson believes the time has come to draw a line under the Pietersen saga and focus on the challenge of tackling World Cup title holders India on the sub-continent.
“Hopefully we can draw a line under the whole episode and crack on with the tour of India. We want to get back to number one and need our best players to do that. Kevin is one of our best.”
Another England bowler, Graeme Swann, said it was disappointing that the Pietersen affair had overshadowed the final Test of retiring England skipper Strauss.
“He was such an unbelievable servant to our game and such a brilliant captain and for him to have his last match tarnished by the while sorry affair is a great shame for me.” – Sapa-AFP