Star batsman to don England coloured uniform in Twenty20 series.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen is poised for a return to international cricket in the second Twenty20 match against New Zealand after a long lay-off with injury.
The ECB named a 14-man squad for the two-match series at The Oval in London on June 25 and 27, with Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan captaining the side.
“Kevin Pietersen, who has been unavailable for England since March due to a knee injury, will join the squad for the second match provided he successfully completes an LV County Championships game for Surrey beginning on Friday 21 June,” they said in a statement.
Pietersen is regarded as the most talented batsman in the England set-up and has scored 7,499 runs, including 22 hundreds, in 94 Tests at an impressive average of 49.01.
In T20 internationals, he has scored 1,176 runs at an average of 37.93.
The 32-year-old was briefly dropped from the side during last year’s series at home to South Africa after allegedly sending text messages critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss, who has since retired, to players from the opposition.
It was expected Pietersen would have just two matches — Surrey’s County Championship fixture away to Yorkshire and then England’s four-day Ashes warm-up at Essex starting a week on Sunday — to prove his fitness in time for the first Test.
But now England will have an additional chance to put Pietersen through his paces this coming Thursday at his Oval home ground.
Pietersen will join two as yet uncapped players – Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance and Morgan’s fellow Irishman, Warwickshire pace bowler Boyd Rankin – in the reckoning to face the Kiwis.
England’s regular Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad was rested from the two-match series as were many of the likely first choice squad for the Ashes, which starts with the first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on July 10.
Morgan has previously led England’s Twenty20 team, in Broad’s absence when the seamer was injured for two matches against India shortly before last Christmas.
England’s squad includes two players yet to play for their country in any format: Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance and Warwickshire quick Boyd Rankin.
National selector Geoff Miller said they had a blend of youth and experience and the squad had been picked with the heavy cricket schedule in mind.
The games against the Black Caps would provide an opportunity for players who had performed well in the domestic game, with the country’s performance programme and Lions teams to gain international experience.
“New Zealand are a talented limited overs side and with a World T20 competition less than a year away this series gives us a chance to look at a number of different options,” he added.
This Sunday sees England bidding to win their first major one-day international title when they face either India or Sri Lanka, due to play in Cardiff on Thursday, in the Champions Trophy final at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground.
England squad to face New Zealand in two T20 matches:
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, capt), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset, wkt), Jade Dernbach (Surrey), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Michael Lumb (Nottinghamshire), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey, June 27 fixture only), Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), James Tredwell (Kent), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Luke Wright (Sussex)