Contrite Pietersen agrees England return

Updated 8:20 AM EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
South African-born Kevin Pietersen made his England Test debut against Australia in 2005.
PHOTO: Getty Images
South African-born Kevin Pietersen made his England Test debut against Australia in 2005.

Story highlights

Kevin Pietersen agrees return to the England cricket team

The South African-born batsman frozen out after sending provocative text messages

Pietersen has signed a new central contract and will begin a "re-integration" process

The batsman could return to the team in time for February's tour of New Zealand

(CNN) —  

English cricketer Kevin Pietersen has reached an agreement with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) which paves the way for his return to the national team.

Arguably England’s most naturally talented cricketer, Pietersen was dropped by selectors in August after it emerged he had sent “provocative” text messages to South Africa’s players during a recent Test series between the two teams.

However the South-African born Pietersen must undergo a “reintegration program”, before England team director Andy Flower can pick him.

“ECB and Kevin Pietersen confirm that agreement has been reached concerning a process for his reintegration into the England team during the remainder of 2012,” said an ECB statement.

“Upon completion of the program, the England selectors will consider Kevin for future matches.”

Without Pietersen, who was born in South Africa, defending champions England crashed out of the World T20 tournament in Sri Lanka at the Super Eight stage.

Two years ago the allrounder was man of the tournament when England, captained by Paul Collingwood, were crowned T20 world champions in the Caribbean.

In May, Pietersen had announced his retirement from T20 and one-day cricket, although he was in Sri Lanka working as a broadcaster for ESPN Star Sports.

Andrew Strauss, who was England captain when Pietersen was frozen out of the team, has since retired from international cricket, with Alastair Cook the side’s new Test skipper.

“Kevin Pietersen has apologized to Andrew Strauss and wishes to express to all those who support England his regrets at the impact the recent controversies have had on the England team,” continued the ECB statement.

“He now wishes to put the events of the summer behind him and to focus on regaining his place in the England team.”

The ECB went on to say the issue regarding messages sent from Pietersen’s Blackberry mobile phone had been resolved.

“With regards the issue of the BBM messages, due to the fact that Kevin had not retained the BBM messages, this matter has been successfully concluded through a binding assurance provided to ECB by Kevin.

“Kevin conceded that the messages exchanged were provocative. The ECB is satisfied, following receipt of this binding assurance, that to the best of his recollection, Kevin did not convey any messages which were derogatory about the England captain, the England team director, the ECB or employees of the ECB.

“Furthermore, there was no tactical information whatsoever provided to members of the South African touring party.”

ECB chairman Giles Clarke refused to put a timescale on when Pietersen might return.

“Kevin has signed a central contract today,” Clarke told a media conference. “Andy Flower will determine the progress of the reintegration process. It could be soon, it could be much later.”

Pietersen admitted the situation had been difficult, but insisted he was focused on regaining his place in the team.

“It’s been a horrible situation for all involved,” said the 32-year-old cricketer.

“But it is time to move forward. All being well I’ll be back in an England shirt as soon as possible.”

Before he was dropped, Pietersen has been integral part of the England Test team since making his debut in 2005.

He has scored 21 centuries in 81 Test matches for his country and was given the honor of captaining England’s one-day team in 2008.

The right-hander, who is an occasional spin bowler, will be hoping to win back his place in the team in time for November and December’s tour of India.