Kevin Pietersen is set for a shock return to English domestic cricket this summer.
Having seemingly agreed to play for the St Lucia Stars (formerly Zouks) in this year’s Caribbean Premier League, which runs from the 1st August to 9th September, he will no longer take part in this Friday’s draft for the competition.
Instead, he has agreed to return to Surrey, the county with whom he holds a strong relationship, to play in the T20 Blast from 7th July to 2nd September.
The 36-year-old has been a Twenty20 specialist since his England axing in 2014, and has appeared for Delhi Daredevils, Rising Pune Supergiants, St Lucia Zouks, Dolphins, Melbourne Stars, Surrey and Quetta Gladiators in that period.
However, Pietersen has been a critic of the English T20 Blast, suggesting that its format, in which teams tend to play once or twice a week, is not conducive to top-quality cricket.
“I have found it quite difficult because playing once a week is hard work,” Pietersen said last year.
“I find tournaments like the CPL, the Big Bash and IPL – which play a lot – much easier because there is much more time in the environment.
“In England, playing once a week, it’s much harder because playing once a week means you are training once a week.”
The former England captain has also called for the introduction of a franchise system in the UK, which would cut the numbers of teams from 18 to eight or ten.
“The franchise system works, everybody has made it work, the whole world has gone that way,” he claimed in 2015.
“Why can’t they do it in England? It’s strange.”
But this year’s T20 Blast is set to be played in a block of fixtures, with Surrey playing only once in another competition between their first and last group stage match in the 2017 edition.
Speaking to the club’s website, Pietersen said “I’m absolutely over the moon to be joining Surrey again. I’ve missed playing here at home and it’s going to be a special feeling walking out at The Kia Oval again.
“We’ve got some seriously talented guys in our team and I’m very confident we can achieve something really special this season.
“I’ve had some great times at this club and ground over the years; it’s a special place with top people, and I’m looking forward to once again being part of it.”
Surrey’s Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart, said “re-signing KP is a massive boost to the club and the NatWest T20 Blast competition.
“To have a player of his undoubted calibre available to us will add strength and experience to our squad and I’m sure all our fans will enjoy seeing him back playing in England again.
“His work ethic and appetite for success are infectious and our squad have always enjoyed having him around the dressing room and performing out in the middle.”
Jason Roy, Sangakkara and KP is a pretty tasty top 3 for Surrey next season.
The signing of Pietersen gives Surrey a formidable batting line-up for this year’s competition. Durham pair Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick have already agreed deals for 2017, with Kumar Sangakkara and Aaron Finch set for stints as overseas players.
And if England hopefuls Jason Roy and Ben Foakes are available for the Blast, Surrey may well boast the strongest top order in the competition.