KEVIN PIETERSEN looks set to be denied the chance of convincing Indian Premier League teams to splash out and sign him up.
He had hoped to play for England in tomorrow’s T20 at Eden Gardens knowing a big performance in front of an adoring Indian public would give him, or any others looking for an IPL team, a timely leg-up just weeks before the auction for next year’s tournament takes place.
But a fractured thumb suffered in the field on Sunday in Mumbai makes him a big doubt for the game, although he will have a fitness test today in the hope he might still be able to make it.
The 31-year-old batsman is a cult hero in India thanks to his time as England captain when the side returned following terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
He also turned out for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League in both 2009 and 2010.
However, having seen his auction fee – the amount a team is willing to pay for his services – tumble from $1.55million last year to $650,000 this year, a double hernia then prevented Pietersen from playing his part for the Deccan Chargers.
He chalked up a quickfire 33 in England’s T20 win over India in August, but knows a big performance from him tomorrow would have caught the eye of IPL franchises looking to bolster their squads for the spring.
Even a young player such as Jos Buttler, who will be making just his fourth T20 appearance for England, has a chance to impress after shining for Somerset in the Champions League. Buttler and Alex Hales will be the two new additions to the side as England aim to put their 5-0 one-day drubbing behind them and do what India could not on their tour of England – win a match.
“Nobody wants to leave this tour without a win and we have got one last chance on Saturday to make that happen,” said Buttler. “Potentially there is a bit of pressure on us because we’re world No.1 and world champions in T20 cricket. Everyone is looking to that positively.
“The five one-dayers have gone and that is history now. What has happened has happened and we can’t do anything about it so we just need to focus on trying to get a win.
“Playing in India is different but the basics are the same. The wickets are a bit different and it is our job to adapt to it.
“Twenty20 gives you the chance to express yourself and play with no fear, which I think can only help your batting.
“Hopefully we can put on a good performance on Saturday and end the tour with a win.”
Buttler is one of a new breed of cricketer who have grown up with T20 cricket as part of the furniture and is used to the razzmatazz surrounding it, as well as the innovative shots which need to be played.
He has probably the biggest hitter in T20 cricket alongside him at Somerset in the shape of Keiron Pollard, who would make more money than the rest of the squad by virtue of travelling the globe and playing the shortest form of the game. It would be easy to see why Buttler and his generation could have their heads turned by the sort of lifestyle enjoyed by Pollard, but there is only one goal for Buttler.
“I want to play Test cricket,” he added, before the England players left for a charity visit to Future Hope School to support work in helping street children of Kolkata enjoy a brighter future.
“Look at the Ashes series recently and the fact that England are now the No.1 side in the world,” said Buttler.
“I think a lot of young cricketers want to be a part of that.
“Test cricket is my ultimate aim as I think it should be for any young player coming into the county game.
“Potentially there are those who see Twenty20 as the big stage, but I enjoy all three formats of the game and the pinnacle as far as I’m concerned is Test cricket.”