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Pietersen awarded full central contract

ESPN staff
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Kevin Pietersen opened the batting on his one-day return against India A and scored 19 runs © Associated Press
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Kevin Pietersen has been awarded a full central contract by the ECB, so formally completing his reintegration into the England set-up.

Confirmation that Pietersen had regained official approval was given by England's limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, ahead of the opening ODI against India in Rajkot on Friday. His contract, in common with the rest of England's senior players, will run until September 30.

Giles said: "Kevin has now signed up fully and is fully back on board. It's great news. It's great for me to have him, his experience in this part of the world is invaluable."

Pietersen had been playing on a short-term deal since his relationship deteriorated last summer with the ECB, England's director of coaching Andy Flower and several senior players, an affair which reached a head when he was dropped for the final Test of the summer against South Africa.

He missed the World Twenty20 but returned to England's Test side for the series in India and his flamboyant 186 in the second Test in Mumbai turned a series that England went on to win 2-1.

Attention will now turn not to Pietersen's lone stand-offs with the England cricket authorities, but the progress of negotiations on a redrafted central contract which are taking place between the ECB and the Professional Cricketers Association with the aim of reaching agreement before back-to-back Ashes series against Australia later this year.

Angus Porter, chief executive of the PCA, who was called in last summer to broker peace talks between Pietersen and the ECB, suggested at the time that a more formalised rotation system was essential if players were to survive the record amounts of cricket being played and called for players to be given a say in their rest periods.

Under the present system, time off is entirely a decision for the England management based on their assessment of a player's needs. Porter also favours the establishment of a window for IPL which would allow England's top players to take part in the event, but with the BCCI resisting such a suggestion in the belief that they are empowered to act as they wish anyway, and other Boards showing little inclination to debate the matter, he is unlikely to make progress on the subject.

Pietersen will not be the only England player watching such negotiations, but he will be watching them more avidly than most and his advisers can be expected to make their feelings known.

It would be naive, too, to assume that his signing of a central contract is the start of an untroubled long-term peace which will last until his retirement. His prolonged fall out with the England management disturbed him and his rapport with his England team-mates was by all reports a good one in India.

But he remains essentially the same headstrong individualist who has permanently to remind himself of the importance of group requirements and that is not about to change because he has signed a piece of paper.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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