Surrey ditch Pietersen as the promotion dream fades

 
Ross McLean
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Kevin Pietersen
MAVERICK batsman Kevin Pietersen’s exile from red ball cricket is set to continue after Surrey opted not to select the former England captain for the campaign’s final two county championship fixtures.

The 34-year-old signalled his intention earlier in the season to return to the county arena and play his part in Surrey’s bid to rejoin the top flight of English domestic cricket at the first time of asking.

But Pietersen has been omitted from Surrey’s four-day squad to face table toppers Worcestershire today and insisted a first-class return was only likely had his side been firmly in the hunt for honours.

“I was only going to play if we had a realistic chance of gaining promotion,” said Pietersen. “Now that’s gone, I’m not playing. It was Surrey’s decision as it would be a great opportunity for the youngsters to get some more experience.”

Surrey currently lie third in Division Two, 32 points behind second-placed Hampshire with just the two games remaining, and director of cricket Alec Stewart prefers to hold a longer term view.

“Realistically, we’ve got just an outside chance of promotion so it’s better for the club if we give Aneesh Kapil or Arun Harinath more experience,” Stewart said.

Since being discharged from England duty, Pietersen has featured solely in limited-overs cricket, skippering the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League while also playing in the Caribbean equivalent and the T20 Blast.