Kevin Pietersen released from IPL contract for county deal

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen was released by Surrey at the end of last season after exclusively playing Twenty20 cricket for them in 2014

Kevin Pietersen can return to county cricket after reaching an agreement with his Indian Premier League side Sunrisers Hyderabad.

He has been freed to join a county - with Surrey thought to be the front-runners for his signature - as he steps up his quest for an England recall.

Sunrisers confirmed the move in a joint statement with the player on Tuesday.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to earn a recall to the international set-up," Pietersen, 34, said.

The four-time Ashes winner, who was told he was no longer part of England's plans in February 2014, added: "My focus is now very much on the upcoming season in England and I'm absolutely determined to score as many runs as possible.

"I've never made any secret of my overwhelming desire to once again represent England."

Pietersen last week told BBC Sport he would "do anything" to get back in.

But national selector James Whitaker said he is "not part" of his plans.

The South Africa-born batsman is England's highest international run-scorer, with 13,797 runs across Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20s.

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Kevin Pietersen could return for England this summer

He parted company with Surrey last September, when it appeared Pietersen would only be available for three-and-a-half weeks in 2015, because of his IPL and Caribbean Premier League commitments.

The IPL starts on 8 April and Pietersen's agreement with Sunrisers means he will miss the side's league fixtures. However, he will be recalled should the team reach the knockout stages of the competition, which start on 19 May and finish with the final on 24 May.

Pietersen's commitment to county cricket follows an interview by incoming England & Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves, in which he appeared to open the door to an England recall - providing Pietersen played county cricket.

However, Whitaker last week told the BBC: "We haven't had discussions at all about Kevin and he's not part of our plans."

Since his central contract was cancelled after the disastrous 2013-14 Ashes tour, Pietersen has had stints in the IPL, Australian Big Bash and Caribbean Premier League, but has not played first-class domestic cricket since June 2013.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen played 13 Twenty20 Blast matches for Surrey in 2014

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