Kevin Pietersen has been in the international wilderness since 2014, but there are sound reasons to give him one last hurrah.
In 2016, the ICC World T20 will be held, and it would be a perfect opportunity to both patch up relations with England’s highest run-scorer, whilst squeezing that last bit of juice out of him.
On a basic level, it’s no secret that Pietersen has experience and quality that would be beneficial for England.
Of course, it would be odd if someone with that quality wasn’t already selected.
The reasons he was omitted from the side still remain somewhat a mystery. But, what is clear, is that issues which were the cause, have largely been removed or changed.
The coach is different, various players who had friction with him have retired. And, If Pietersen were to return, it wouldn’t be long term thing anyway.
He wouldn’t be back to the Test or ODI side. It would be a short-term deal to help England at the World T20, which when England won in 2010, he was the man of the tournament.
Another important factor, is that it’s in India, not only because of his time at IPL, which he has been a part of in 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014, but also because of his success there for England.
He has played nine Tests in India, including four in 2012, in which he scored two incredible and match-winning centuries.
He knows the conditions, how to attack and score runs against spin, and the crowds like him too, which is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Unlike most opposition batsmen who receive a deathly silence and an empty stadium, Indians flock to see KP, because he is an entertainer.
That would help England.
These factors add to the benefit his overall knowledge of the format would bring.
In 2015 alone, he played in the Ram Slam in South Africa in which he was the second top run scorer, the Caribbean Premier League, in which he was in the top 10 run scorers, the Big Bash, in which he was third top run-scorer, and which he helped his side get to the final. He recently signed up to the Pakistan Super League too.
So, why would he fit back in just this once?
England have a new coach. Andy Flower is gone, and the new man, Trevor Bayliss is a Pietersen-type coach.
He has given ‘Ben Stokes a licence to play his natural game‘ which is in the vein of KP’s, whilst also moving the aggressive left hander back up to number six, after time spent at seven and eight.
Bayliss is also more of a background coach. He isn’t a pencil pusher and clipboard-holder, a dictator.
In October, Alastair Cook credited Bayliss for his improvement as England captain, saying: “He’s a really relaxed guy, he lets the captain run the side and that is one of the big differences from the other guys.”
And, Bayliss’s recall of James Taylor, Nick Compton, Jonny Bairstow, Garry Ballance and selection of Adil Rashid, all shows a willingness to try something different, whether new or old.
England’s T20 side is jam-packed with young players, who lack experience.
In 2015, in the overall list of run scorers in T20 Internationals, the highest England run scorer was Eoin Morgan at number 38. This is due to such a low number of games (just four) played by England internationally.
They need someone to shepherd them. There are very few senior leaders, or players with the experience and hunger that Pietersen still has. Reselecting him for one last time could be a stroke of genius.
He could marshall a young side, in an unfamiliar format, in foreign conditions and with nothing to lose.
There’d be no prospect of a long term impact on the side or interference in other formats. It’s a cricketing one-night-stand.
More than anything, as a fan, this could ensure that one of England’s greatest ever batsmen does not depart the game with the bitter taste of regret, but the sweet one reconciliation and perhaps even success.
And, it sounds like he’s up for it…