Sat, 05 Jul 2014 14:30:00 GMT | By AFP

Kevin Pietersen still hopes to play for England

KP was controversially axed following England’s 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia last year


Kevin Pietersen still hopes to play for England (© Reuters)

London: Kevin Pietersen insisted on Friday he still wanted to play for England again as he urged the selectors to be "braver" with their choices for the national side.

Pietersen was controversially axed by England following the team's 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia even though he is England's all-time leading run-scorer.

South Africa-born Pietersen, a former England captain, hasn't given up on an international recall although the present hierarchy, including Test skipper Alastair Cook, are vehemently opposed to his return to the fold.

However, Pietersen -- who will play for the Rest of the World side against an equally star-studded MCC in the Lord's bicentenary match on Saturday -- said he would love to return to the 'home of cricket' to take part in a full international once again.

Pietersen is still on the staff at Surrey, where he has what is primarily a Twenty20 contract, although it does leave open the option to play in other formats including the first-class County Championship.

But with Pietersen something of a Twenty20 'gun for hire' -- he captained the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League and is due to play in the Caribbean Premier League -- the star batsman has yet to play a first-class match this season.

Not that Pietersen himself regarded that as an insurmountable hurdle to a Test return.

"No, cricket has never been the issue," he said when asked if four-day matches would provide a route back into the England side.

"I have played 104 Test matches, I've got enough runs. I think the resume is okay -- cricket is not the issue. I have got a phone in my pocket and a pretty good resume, it is not about the cricket.

"I would love to play for England again -- I have still got hope. I'm 34 and I'm young.

"I can still play and I have a good resume and if things change one day I would gladly accept the opportunity because I love playing for England, if I didn't I would have retired -- I would love to play again.

"I've never lost interest in playing for England...I had ambitions and I had goals and they are still there."

Pietersen, who has a superb Test record at Lord's, with five hundreds in 15 matches and a total tally of 1,235 runs at an average of 56.13, said he was looking forward to playing in front of another capacity crowd at the 'home of cricket'.

"I have always enjoyed playing at Lord's, it is an incredible occasion and something I'm looking forward to," he said

"I didn't think I was going to get the opportunity to play in front of a full house at Lord's again but I will always still have hope to play many more games in front of full houses here -- I'm only 34, the body is good and I have got ambition."

Meanwhile Shane Warne said he expected Pietersen to seize a chance to shine on Saturday.

Warne, widely regarded as cricket's greatest leg-spinner, will captain former Hampshire colleague Pietersen against an MCC team led by India hero Sachin Tendulkar.

The Australian, who championed Pietersen's cause ahead of his Test debut in 2005, only to be on the receiving end of the strokemaker's blistering Ashes-clinching 158 at The Oval that year, was in no doubt of his quality.

"KP is an absolute match-winner," Warne told a Lord's news conference on Friday.

"He is a superstar and a wonderful player. He is fantastic to watch, I'm sure he will turn it on on Saturday and smash it all over the park."

As well as Tendulkar, the MCC side will include his fellow-India batting great Rahul Dravid, West Indies star Brian Lara and Australia's Brett Lee, while Warne's Rest of the World team features Adam Gilchrist, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shahid Afridi.

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