On Monday Kevin Pieterson's central contract expired and he became a free agent. The breakdown in relations with the England management set up this summer suggested he may not return at all to the national side.
But there are now indications that if he makes another public apology for his actions, he may be back in the team much sooner than previously expected. With England's daunting away trip to India looming, the controversial star may be drafted in to bolster an inexperienced batting line up.
Pieterson has not played for England since being dropped for the final test against South Africa. He had been sending text messages to opponents that allegedly disparaged captain Andrew Strauss and other team mates.
Pieterson did issue an a video apologising for his actions and reaffirming his commitment to England cricket, but that was not deemed sufficient at the time to merit a recall. The batsman will likely have to issue a similar apology and again confirm that he intends to play all forms of cricket with the national side, having previously retired from ODIs and Twenty20 matches.
Given that if Pieterson could play around the world on lucrative short term Twenty20 contracts if he was not in the England set up, a statement like this would demonstrate his commitment.
How well Pieterson would be received in the dressing room is another issue. Andrew Strauss stated that the sage had nothing to do with his recent retirement, but there may be some discontent that a popular captain was undermined by Pieterson in his last Test series.
KP is clearly a big character, and trying to reintegrate him into a team may be a big challenge for the new Test captain Alastair Cook. Hopefully there has been plenty of contact between senior players and Pieterson whilst he has not been in the side, so some kind of relationship has been maintained. Otherwise there may be a frosty reception if he is drafted in to tour India.
No one doubts Pieterson's ability with the bat, and as a truly world class player England will always be improved with him in the side. This is especially true when touring somewhere like India, where our batsmen will likely need to post large totals in every innings to succeed.
However cricket is a team game, and sacrificing principles in order to bring in star player will be detrimental to English cricket in the long term. Pieterson still has to show plenty of contrition to make it worthwhile bringing him back.
image: © chrisjrn