Former Test captain Alec Stewart has praised Kevin Pietersen but says it is “unlikely” the star batsman will gain an England recall.
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Pietersen signed with former side Surrey for the English County season as he attempts to win a call-up to the England squad ahead of the much-anticipated Ashes series beginning in July.
Stewart – Surrey’s director of cricket – told BBC Radio that Pietersen was an “outstanding” character and suggested that he expected more of the same from the South-African born batsman in his second stint with the side.
“He’s been as good as gold with us. If he was a bad character we wouldn’t have had him,” he is quoted as saying by Press Association.
“Whenever he’s been with us he has been outstanding. He’s helped the youngsters, he’s been in the nets, he’s put on batting clinics and he’s tried his heart out. So hopefully, and I have no reason to disbelieve, he will be exactly the same this time, if not even more hard working and desperate to score runs.”
Stewart admitted that it was hard to see Pietersen getting back into the England Test side ahead of the Ashes.
“If England are winning, they have a good West Indies tour which we expect, then it’s going to take an injury or a huge loss of form for a vacancy to become available,” Stewart said.
“But all Kevin can do and, that’s what he’s said to us, he’s going to score runs, sit back and see what happens.”
Pietersen was granted an early release from his £250,000 IPL contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad, showing the seriousness of his attempt to break back into the Test squad.
Incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves has left the door open for a Pietersen comeback, but ECB managing director Paul Downton and Test captain Alastair Cook seem less keen on the idea.