FEARS that England batsman Kevin Pietersen could miss this summer’s Ashes series deepened last night when he was ruled out of the Champions Trophy following scans on his knee injury.
Pietersen had hoped to return for the one-day series against New Zealand at the end of May but is now not expected to resume full training until at least mid-June, just three weeks before the first Ashes Test.
That means he will miss the Champions Trophy, which begins in Cardiff on 6 June, depriving England of arguably their most destructive one-day batsman for a tournament being played on home soil.
But the bigger concern is that he could fail to recover in time for the start of England’s Ashes defence against Australia, which begins at Trent Bridge on 10 July.
The 32-year-old, who suffered bruising on the bone in February during the build-up to the Test series in New Zealand, was last week ruled out of the two-match return campaign against the Black Caps, starting on 16 May.
However his return was put back following MRI scans on his right knee yesterday, which showed some improvement but still prompted the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to extend his recovery period.
“Kevin Pietersen has been ruled out of the ICC Champions Trophy following a repeat MRI scan on his right knee earlier today,” the ECB said in a statement.
“The scan has shown some improvement in the bruising to the bone that occurred in the build up to the Test Series against New Zealand in February. However Pietersen will not have recovered sufficiently in time for the NatWest One Day Series against New Zealand beginning 31 May and the ICC Champions Trophy which follows.
“Pietersen will now start a graduated rehabilitation program with a view to resuming full training by the middle of June.”
The blow came after Australia named their 16-man Ashes squad, omitting erratic fast-bowler Mitchell Johnson but recalling Middlesex opener Chris Rogers, whose only Test cap came five years ago.
Rogers, who has amassed 9,375 first class runs over nine years in England at an average of 54.19, admitted his shock at the call-up.
“I’m delighted and honoured to be given another chance to represent Australia,” said the 35-year-old.
“I thought the chance might have passed me by, but I never gave up hope or the desire to be part of a successful Australian Ashes side.”
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been named vice-captain. James Faulkner is the sole uncapped player.