'Paul Downton's exit is extra motivation for Kevin Pietersen'

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen's last Test appearance for England came in the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia

Kevin Pietersen is not guaranteed a return to international cricket because of Paul Downton's departure from the England and Wales Cricket Board - but he will definitely see it as another stumbling block cleared out of the way.

When I worked with Pietersen in commentary at the World Cup he was very focused indeed. He is absolutely determined to win back his England place, and I am sure Pietersen sees this decision as an extra incentive for him to work on his comeback and what he will see as an even more realistic opportunity now.

The Kevin Pietersen issue has been such a massive part of this year, and one that that was handled badly by the ECB board since they decided to sack him shortly after the 2013-14 Ashes series, which Australia won 5-0.

Kevin Pietersen - an England comeback?

There was no need to sack Pietersen. They could merely have decided to move on and not pick him again without a big song and dance. But that is the way they chose to go. It has created such a massive reaction and they only have themselves to blame for that really.

Does the decision to sack Downton from his role as managing director mean Pietersen will definitely come back? There is more to it than Downton just losing his job.

For a start, KP has not faced a red ball in 18 months and there are a lot of things that still need to happen - not least Pietersen scoring some runs in the domestic game having rejoined Surrey - before we see him striding out to the middle in an England shirt again.

'Who's next?'

The ECB have created a new director of England cricket following Downton's departure and I see my Test Match Special colleague, and ex-England captain, Michael Vaughan has been touted as a possible man for the job.

Michael Vaughan, Jonathan Agnew
Michael Vaughan has been a Test Match Special expert summariser since his retirement in 2009

I will be interested to see if Vaughan can commit himself completely to this job because he would have to give up a lot of other things.

Vaughan would be a great candidate but he loves his media work and he has a lot of other interests that take up his time.

There is no way you could have an England director of cricket doing anything else but focusing on this role 100%.

It has got to be someone who is really in touch with the modern game and the direction cricket is going.

Whoever is appointed needs to have retained an involvement with cricket, and someone who comes into the job with fresh ideas and with a resolve to make specific improvements.

Who would be best for Pietersen's return?

Kevin Pietersen's England highs & lows

Two of the names mentioned for the England director role - Alec Stewart and Andrew Strauss - could have a major say in the next instalment of what happens with Pietersen of course.

Strauss, given his history with KP, will probably take a lot of convincing that he should return to the fold. With Stewart, his coach at Surrey, it might be a bit more straightforward.

We have not seen the job description for the position, but you can imagine it needs someone who is in touch with the game.

It needs to be someone who has been out of it just long enough to avoid being too personally involved with the current players.

'KP sacking not just down to Downton'

Downton, who took over from Hugh Morris, was not in a position as MD in which he was solely dealing with the England team; there was much to the role.

Downton had a difficult time of it. He was briefed that his first job must be to get rid of Pietersen. He took responsibility for that, but it was not 100% his call - it was a broader decision.

So perhaps he was an easy person to target with regards to KP. He has taken a lot of flak for that. And likewise he was not directly hands-on with the England team.

You have to question how much responsibility he actually had on England team matters.

The new job, however, is going to be more targeted to the England team. It must be. The new role is probably going to be much more focused on that.

Post-England Pietersen (February 2014-present)
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Whitaker's job might be on the line

The change to key elements of the administration - the chairman and the chief executive - made it likely that something had to change after England's dismal World Cup campaign and someone be shown the door.

James Whitaker, Paul Downton
James Whitaker, left, could find his job on the line following the departure of Paul Downton, right

It could have been the coach Peter Moores, it could have the man responsible for selection of the team in James Whitaker.

But instead what they have decided to do is reassess the role Downton has occupied which encompasses many different aspects of English cricket; from everything that is done at Loughborough all the way up to the top of the game and the England team.

However, he was only marginally responsible for the England team itself.

This new director of England role. Will he be a selector? Might he be a cricket supremo and we go back to the days of Raymond Illingworth with a selection committee of captain, coach and the director - for me that looks favourite at the moment.

But if that is the case, James Whitaker would not have a job in the near future either. From the way that it sounds that is where they are going. It all depends on how hands-on this new director of England cricket will be.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Timothy Abraham.

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