Kevin Pietersen: Surrey among six counties keen on signing batsman

By Pat MurphyBBC Radio 5 live
Kevin Pietersen could return for England this summer

Six counties are keen to sign Kevin Pietersen for the 2015 season, provided he can secure his release from the Indian Premier League.

The 34-year-old, who was sacked by England in February 2014, is contracted to IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Surrey are favourites to sign the batsman, who is considering a return to county cricket in an attempt to earn a recall to the England side.

Sunrisers coach Tom Moody has approved his release.

That decision is expected to be finalised by the league by Wednesday.

Somerset are also thought to be interested in recruiting Pietersen, who won 104 Test and 136 one-day caps for England and has scored 8,181 runs in the former and 4,440 in the latter.

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However, Surrey are also interested in recruiting the South African-born player, who has an excellent working relationship with his old mentor Graham Ford - head coach at the county - and their director of cricket Alec Stewart following a previous spell with them from 2010 to 2014.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen helped Surrey reach T20 Finals day in 2014, losing in the semi-final to eventual winners Birmingham Bears

They parted on good terms last September, when it appeared Pietersen would only be available for three-and-a-half weeks in 2015, because of his IPL and Caribbean Premier League commitments.

Pietersen has not played international cricket for 14 months, since the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia and released an autobiography in October which was heavily critical of senior England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) figures and England players.

National selector James Whitaker said at the time that there was "no way" Pietersen would return to the England team.

Colin Graves, who will succeed Giles Clarke as ECB chairman in May, said at the start of this month that the selectors "can't ignore" Pietersen if he "scores a lot of runs" for a county.

Ex-England captain Michael Vaughan
"If he goes to Surrey and scores two or three double hundreds and England's form continues like it is at the minute, there is a small possibility we might see Kevin Pietersen in an England jersey again this summer."

However, an ECB spokesperson said "nothing has changed" following Graves' remarks, adding: "Only players who are playing consistent high-quality county cricket and who are seen as a positive influence will be selected."

Pietersen told Fox Sports on Saturday: "There will be a change of scenery at board level with the ECB and I've always expressed my desire to play for England again if I get the opportunity.

"It seems encouraging but I've got a few steps that I've got to climb."

Pietersen added that he "absolutely" could work with current England coach Peter Moores again, despite the "irretrievable breakdown" of their relationship in 2009.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen was released by Surrey at the end of the 2014 season when it became clear his Twenty20 commitments around the world would limit his availability.

Pietersen would command a salary in line with a top domestic player and would return to train with a county side as soon as his broadcasting commitments at the World Cup are over at the end of March.

Surrey's first County Championship match is away at Glamorgan on 19 April, 11 days into this season's IPL, which runs until 24 May.

England's post-World Cup fixtures start with a tour of the West Indies next month and continue with a one-day international against Ireland on 8 May. They then face tourists New Zealand in two Test matches, with the first Test beginning on 21 May. The two sides will also contest five ODIs and a Twenty20 match in June.

Since being sacked by England, Pietersen has also had stints in the Australian Big Bash and Caribbean Premier League, but has not played first-class domestic cricket since June 2013.

As well as his £205,000 contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad,external-link he is again scheduled to play for St Lucia Zouksexternal-link in the Caribbean Premier League in June and July. He wants to keep his options open over that contract while his England future remains uncertain.