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Pietersen to make Championship return

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Kevin Pietersen has struggled for form since being sacked by the ECB © Getty Images
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Kevin Pietersen will play just his second County Championship match in two years when he returns to Surrey's four-day side next month, having admitted he has suffered from a lack of matches this year.

Pietersen will play in the NatWest Blast Finals Day on August 23 and will then be available for Surrey's final two Championship matches, against Worcestershire at New Road and Derbyshire at The Oval, in September - a comeback he first confirmed in his Daily Telegraph column last month.

He has so far limited himself to just Twenty20 since being sacked by the ECB in February but has found little success, making only one half-century in 24 innings across the IPL, NatWest T20 Blast and now the Caribbean Premier League.

"I probably should have played a little bit more cricket than I have," Pietersen told All Out Cricket magazine. "If you really want to perform in T20 cricket, I think you need to have your eye in. I do think you need to be playing cricket regularly.

"I found out this year that just playing Friday night games doesn't work, and it is good that I found it out because I am only 34 and I am still going to be playing for another four or five years. And I have understood that I need to play a lot more cricket in order to be successful and that is what I am going to do. And if I am playing in England next year I have to play a lot more cricket to be more successful in the shorter form of the game.

"I find tournaments like the CPL, the Big Bash and IPL - which play a lot - much easier because there is much more time in the environment. You spend 24/7 with the players. In England, playing once a week, it's much harder because playing once a week means you are training once a week. If you are going to attack from ball one you need to have that rhythm to do it."

It is a change of tune from July when Pietersen was asked about the potential for a return to first-class cricket. "No", he said to the prospect, "cricket has never been the issue here. Cricket is not the issue. I've played 104 Test matches - I have enough runs to my name. It's not cricket that is the problem."

His last Championship appearance came in June 2013 when he made an unbeaten 177 for Surrey at Headingley - his only Championship match last season.

"I am going to play in September to try and help Surrey get promoted," Pietersen said. "I have said to Surrey I want to do everything I can to try and help them to get promotion, because I want Surrey to play first division cricket. I love Surrey, they have been fantastic to me, and I want to continue to give back to them because I love the club. I love the players, coaches and the management."

Surrey currently lie second in Division Two of the County Championship, two points ahead of Hampshire but having played a game more. Sri Lanka batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan will not be available for the final two matches.

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