Kevin Pietersen looks certain to be missing from the list of England centrally contracted players which is due to be announced shortly, although there is optimism he will be included at a later date depending on a positive outcome of the continuing talks between him and the England management.
Pietersen is already believed to have had a meeting with the England team director, Andy Flower, and further broader talks are likely, which will also include the new Test captain, Alastair Cook.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has 13 players on full contract until the end of September, including Pietersen, but there is no fixed number, with contracts issued at the discretion of Flower. There is no reason, then, that a contract for Pietersen could not be held in abeyance until further discussions have taken place. Certainly his absence from an initial list does not indicate that the door is closed – in the past, players have been added to such a list – but if, as it is believed, Flower wants to announce his squad for the forthcoming Test tour of India before the side leave in a week for the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, then there is some urgency if Pietersen is to be included in that. Although not ideal, an announcement could be delayed until after the tournament finishes, at the end of the first week in October.
Had Pietersen not reversed his decision to retire from international limited-overs cricket, then the best he could have hoped for would be a Test-only contract. Now, though, he has stated his intention to be available for England cricket in all formats, which would include the Test series against New Zealand next May, coinciding as it does with a part of the Indian Premier League, for which Pietersen has a lucrative contract to play for Delhi Daredevils. But aside from other issues that relate to Pietersen's relationship with the team, Flower is sure to want assurances that the batsman's agenda will not continue to fluctuate as it has done, and that the same situation will not arise in the course of a new contract.
As it is, the list is unlikely to stray far from that announced a year ago. Andrew Strauss has gone, of course, and Chris Tremlett, who has struggled with injury, could well be replaced by the Durham seamer Graham Onions, who was unfortunate not to appear in the recent Test series against South Africa.
Eoin Morgan's full contract status could be precarious given that he was omitted from the Test team following a poor series in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan, and others, including Ravi Bopara, Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor have subsequently been included ahead of him. None of these, though, can hope for more than incremental contracts at this stage, while Morgan remains an integral part of the limited-overs squads.
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