London: Kevin Pietersen has not been named in England’s 30-man probables pool for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September, effectively signaling the end of his Twenty20 career.
The 32-year-old had in May announced his retirement from limited-overs internationals due to the terms of his central contract, but last week hinted at reversing his decision should the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) lessen the team’s workload. However, the ECB’s naming of the preliminary squad – to be halved next month – suggests Pietersen may have played his last Twenty20 for England.
Named in the pool of 30 were several young and promising cricketers who have either fleetingly appeared for England or are on the fringes of selection, such as Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, Durham’s Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes, Hampshire’s Danny Briggs, Somerset’s Jos Buttler, Surrey’s Stuart Meaker and the Nottinghamshire pair of Alex Hales and James Taylor.
Bairstow, 22, made his Test debut last month but was dropped from the squad after three disappointing matches. However, he is seen as a long-term prospect after impressing in the few limited-overs matches he has played for England, including a Man-of-the-Match performance on international debut against India in 2011. Hales is another who has shone for England, hitting a match-winning 99 against West Indies recently. Meaker and Buttler are impressive players whom the selectors are watching closely.
Two somewhat surprising names in the pool were that of the ODI captain Alastair Cook and the Test bowling spearhead James Anderson, who have been deemed surplus to the ECB’s Twenty20 plans. In fact, neither has played a Twenty20 international since November 2009 during the tour of South Africa.
Cook’s outstanding run of form in ODIs this year could have prompted the selectors to name him, even though his last Twenty20 for Essex was back in June 2011. Anderson too has not been a part of Yorkshire’s Twenty20 set-up for over a year. Anderson’s Test bowling team-mates Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Graeme Swann and Graham Onions have been named in the pool, with Stuart Broad continuing as Twenty20 captain.
A couple successful run-scorers from this seasons’ Friends Life t20 have been included - Lancashire batsman Steven Croft, the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament, Sussex allrounder Luke Wright (third-highest run-scorer) but the absence of three of the leading Twenty20 wicket-takers of 2012 in Chris Liddle, Reece Topley and Moin Ashraf was surprising.
Borthwick, a legspinner who has played two ODIs and on Twenty20 international, is currently the sixth-highest wicket-taker in the Twenty20 competition with 12, one ahead of Surrey offspiner – and former Test player - Gareth Batty who has also been included in the probables.
England will be defending their Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka, opening their campaign against Afghanistan on September 21. The final squad will be trimmed to 15 by August 18.
England squad: Stuart Broad (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Steven Croft, Steven Davies, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Graeme Swann, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright