Pietersen threatens to quit Tests
England batsman Kevin Pietersen has poured fuel over the embers of his retirement saga, revealing after the second Test draw against South Africa that the next match at Lord's could be his final game for the Three Lions.
Pietersen and the ECB have been at loggerheads for months over his desire to play the entire Indian Premier League, as the ECB want him to play three weeks, like other England players are allowed to do. He insists on the full six weeks, which means he will miss the Test series against New Zealand next year.
When Pietersen retired from limited-overs cricket earlier this year, he said he wanted to make more time for his family and focus on Tests, so this development, which will see him miss those self-same five day games, has forced the ECB to consider not offering him a new central contract in September.
Pietersen, who scored a superb century at Headingley, said: "I can't give any assurances that the next Test won't be my last. I'd like to carry on but there are obstacles that need to be worked out. There are other points I'm trying to sort out in the dressing room.
"It would be a huge shame. I love playing Test cricket for England, but we'll see. For me, the saddest part about all this is that the spectators just love watching me play and I love playing for England."
The sense that Pietersen is a mercenary player is growing, especially as his previous statement that he will not play in the Big Bash League has been somewhat rubbished by Cricket Australia. They revealed recently that three BBL teams are looking to sign the player after Christmas.
But Pietersen again insisted the money involved in the IPL and various T20 leagues was not his motivating factor, saying: "It's absolutely 100% not about money.
"This is not a money issue. The politics is what I have to deal with personally. It's tough being me playing for England.
"There's always speculation. There's speculation every single day. You guys speculate about my life all day every day. I'm going to make some decisions that will make me very happy."
Pietersen also lashed out at the ECB and the media, turning the tables on them for what he saw as breached confidences, saying he never discussed his future with the press, and that people continued to speculate without his input.
He fumed: "It was blamed on me that before this Test series I was grabbing the headlines. Did I leak anything to the media about the meetings I was having with the ECB?
"I never spoke to the media for one single second and it was me grabbing the headlines and journalists talking about me grabbing the headlines. I never spoke a single word to a single journalist about anything that happened behind closed doors that I thought were closed doors.
"So you guys are always going to speculate and make me out to be the bad guy. No problem."
England skipper Andrew Strauss was less than impressed with the latest KP development, expressing a graceful sense of frustration at once again having to spend his post-match press conference talking about team unity and Pietersen's upheavals.
Strauss insisted: "One thing I will say, and it is important to stress this, is that the Team unity that we have had over the last three years has been outstanding. It is something we all pride ourselves on, always have done and will continue to do so going forward.
"I hope the Kevin issue isn't going to be a distraction. The truth is we want as few distractions as possible in making sure we win this third Test match. I'm not here to talk about Kevin Pietersen. It is not something I want to talk about at this stage."
The third and final Test begins on 16 August at Lord's. South Africa lead the series 1-0, so anything less than a win will see England lose their number on Test ranking.