England and Kevin Pietersen agree new central contract

The batsman expects to be in an England shirt "as soon as possible".

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen announced the he had agreed a new contract at a news conference alongside ECB chairman Giles Clarke in Colombo.
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Kevin Pietersen will be slowly reintegrated into the England team after the batsman settled his drawn-out rift with team management, earning him a new central contract.

Pietersen has been out of favour with England since being dropped for sending provocative texts to South Africa players about then-test captain Andrew Strauss during a test series in August, disrupting the unity of the team.

"It's been a horrible situation for all involved, but it is time to move forward," Pietersen said at a news conference in Colombo on Wednesday. "All being well, I'll be back in an England shirt as soon as possible."

The England and Wales Cricket Board released a statement minutes earlier saying Pietersen would undertake a program of reintegration after which selectors "will consider Kevin for future matches."

Pietersen isn't expected to be recalled in time for the start of the upcoming tour of India, with England flying out on Oct. 25. The five-match one-day series against the Indians at the start of January is a possible return date, although it is more likely he will be back for England when the team travels to New Zealand in February for a two-month tour.

He has been engaged in talks with management and new test captain Alastair Cook in recent weeks after pledging his commitment to England, which had been in doubt this year as he sought a new contract that would free him up for commitments in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

The dispute with England saw him miss out on selection for the World Twenty20, where he's a pundit for South African television.

"I want my son growing up seeing me playing for England and I hope one day he will put an England shirt on himself," Pietersen said.

Pietersen has agreed on a short-term central contract which can be extended to Sept. 30 2013 "on the completion of the reintegration program," ECB chairman Giles Clarke said.

England struggled without Pietersen as its defense of the T20 trophy ended on Monday with a loss to Sri Lanka in the Super Eights stage.

England also relinquished its No. 1 test ranking by losing the summer series to South Africa, the country of Pietersen's birth.

"Kevin Pietersen has apologised to Andrew Strauss and wishes to express to all those who support England his regrets at the impact the recent controversies have had on the England team," the ECB statement read.

The eventual return of Pietersen, who averages nearly 50 in test matches and is the most prolific batsman in the world when at his best, would bulk up the England batting lineup following the retirement of Strauss last month.

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