Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ashes warm-up in SA for Pietersen

By Sam Lyon

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen is desperate to regain his best form ahead of the Ashes

England batsman Kevin Pietersen is hoping to play for South African franchise Kwa-Zulu Natal in October as a warm-up for this winter's Ashes.

The South African-born batsman is keen to recover his best form and recently joined Surrey after being left out of England's one-day series with Pakistan.

Pietersen is awaiting clearance from Cricket South Africa to play two four-day matches from 7-17 October.

"I'm keen to get as much cricket as I can under my belt," said Pietersen.

"I want to do that before a challenging and exciting winter.

"My sole focus is to continue playing a leading role for England and joining Natal is the perfect opportunity to prepare in excellent conditions immediately before the Ashes.

"These two matches would enable me to work on my game against the Kookaburra ball in southern hemisphere conditions which is the ideal preparation for Australia."

The Ashes series in Australia starts in November.

A club official of the Durban-based Dolphins had earlier claimed Pietersen had agreed to play for the franchise without a wage, adding: "It is a win-win situation.

"Kevin will play two SuperSport Series matches for us. We are not paying him anything and he gets to prepare for the Ashes."

The 30-year-old has received clearance from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to play in South Africa.

Pietersen, part of the Twenty20 World Cup-winning side this year and voted player of that tournament, was dropped by England for the Twenty20 internationals and one-dayers against Pakistan after a notable drop in form in the past year.


The right-hander has passed fifty for England just once this season and the last of his 16 Test centuries was scored against West Indies in March, 2009.

He was then fined an undisclosed sum this week after posting a message on Twitter, which contained an expletive, announcing he had been dropped.

However, he did fire 116 for Surrey in a 40-40 tie with Sussex at Hove at the weekend - though he followed that up with a second-ball duck in a County Championship match against Glamorgan on Tuesday.

England team director Andy Flower said: "We're very pleased Kevin is seeking to get some more high quality cricket in at a crucial period before the Ashes.

"We are well aware of Kevin's attention to detail and thoroughness when it comes to preparation and he would gain a great deal from working on his batting against tough opposition in South Africa.

"Kevin's commitment and desire to work on his batting and play a significant part in a successful England team is unquestioned and this proposed arrangement with Natal, initiated by Kevin himself, further underlines that."

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