Cricket: Pietersen says England return on if ECB chief quits

LONDON (AFP) - England exile Kevin Pietersen said he could yet return to international duty if England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke quits his post.

Thursday saw Pietersen's controversial autobiography finally go on general sale after days of pre-publicity in which the South Africa-born batsman, England's leading all-time run-scorer, highlighted a "bullying" culture within the England dressing room and was severely critical of the management methods of former England coach Andy Flower.

It is hard to imagine the circumstances in which Pietersen might make an international return - not least because he did not play County Championship cricket for Surrey last season.

But the 34-year-old has not given up hope and having previously focused much of his ire on Flower and several former team-mates, Thursday saw him turn his attention to Clarke.

"What would have to happen for me to be recalled by England?" Pietersen asked in an interview with the London Evening Standard. "Clearly, the boss would have to go.

"Clarke would have to go, and I've been hearing that could happen in the next few months. That's all hearsay, you never know. If there is a change at the top, there is potential, but we will wait and see."

It was Clarke who oversaw an uncomfortable press conference alongside Pietersen in Colombo in 2012 where the star batsman was formally reintegrated into the England team.

That followed a three-month banishment after Pietersen sent text messages critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss to opposition South Africa players during a home series with the Proteas.

"Giles pulls a lot of strings. In terms of cricket, I believe Andy Flower pulls a lot of strings too," Pietersen told the Standard.

"He has Giles Clarke in his pocket."

The ECB have steadfastly declined to respond to Pietersen's autobiography and they had no comment to make regarding his comments about Clarke.

But England great Geoffrey Boycott said he could understand why Kevin Pietersen felt angered by the way his England career was brought to an abrupt halt without a specific explanation.

Former captain Pietersen, having been a key figure in one of the most successful of all England cricket sides, was effectively sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board following the team's 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia concluded in January.

"I'd be miffed if my career had been finished for no reasons given," said Boycott.

"It's actually a pretty big thing when you've got a very talented player ... (and) a country says, 'Fine, we want to move on without you'," Boycott told the Cricinfo website.

Boycott added the root cause of the bitterness was in 2009 when Pietersen was sacked as England captain after voicing his concerns about Peter Moores' suitability as a coach.

Moores lost his job within the England set-up and was replaced by his former assistant Flower, with whom Pietersen had also clashed.

Following this year's Ashes debacle, Flower stood down and was replaced by Moores.

Reflecting on the change of command in 2009, Boycott said: "You have two people (Pietersen and Flower) who resent the situation, both in prime positions - one the best batsman and the other the coach in charge.

"That's a recipe for disaster, isn't it?

"I'm not surprised it spilt over, and eventually he's having his say, because I feel there was so much ill-feeling from that moment Kevin was sacked as captain and Flower was promoted from assistant coach to the coach."

Meanwhile, Boycott's former England team-mate Ian Botham wrote in his Daily Mirror column that he feared Pietersen's brilliance as a batsman was in danger of being overshadowed by "the amateur hour" fallout from his book.

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