LONDON: Kevin Pietersen's dream of helping England defend their World Twenty20 title appeared to have been dashed when he was left out Wednesday of an initial 30-man squad for this year's edition in Sri Lanka.
Pietersen, England's man of the tournament when they won the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean two years ago –their first major limited overs title – recently retired from all white ball internationals.
The South Africa-born batsman wanted to continue to play Twenty20 matches while opting out of 50 overs per side one-day international fixtures.
But England said the terms of his central contract meant he had to be available for both of those formats and that the only alternative was to quit all limited overs international cricket, which he duly did.
Team officials were concerned that if they granted Pietersen his wish England, now on a 10-match winning streak in ODIs, would see several other leading players also quit one-dayers.
Pietersen, who remains one of the first-choice picks for the Test side, suggested last week he would return to one-day internationals if something could be done about making sure he wasn't burnt out by England's packed schedule.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) held firm to their stance that players cannot “pick and choose” which limited overs matches they play in.
England's most recent Twenty20, a seven-wicket win over the West Indies at Trent Bridge last month, saw Alex Hales make 99 in the opener's spot recently vacated by Pietersen.
Hales was duly included in a 30-man squad where his Nottinghamshire colleague Stuart Broad remains captain.
Seam bowler Broad, a talented lower order batsman, was one of seven survivors from the team that beat Australia in the 2010 final in Barbados along with batsmen Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, all-rounders Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan and off-spinner Graeme Swann.
This squad also included Alastair Cook, England's one-day captain and Strauss's opening partner in Tests, in-form batsman Ian bell and Test wicket-keeper Matt Prior, an alternative behind the stumps to Kieswetter.
The issue of Pietersen's availability for the World Twenty20, which gets underway in September, has overshadowed the build-up to the first Test against South Africa at the Oval, headquarters of his county side Surrey, starting on Thursday.
But England Test captain Andrew Strauss, speaking before the World Twenty20 squad was announced on Wednesday, insisted his side had not been distracted.
“The conversations that Kevin's been having are between himself and his representatives on the board,” Strauss said on Sky Sports News.
“The players haven't been involved, the management haven't been involved and that's the way we'd like it to remain.
“It hasn't been a distraction to us, it's something that hasn't entered our thinking and it's allowed us to concentrate properly on this game.
“Kevin as much as anyone is determined to do well in this series and I haven't seen any signs in his preparation to suggest he's in any way distracted by what's going on.”
England, in common with all other competing teams, will have to trim their squad to 15 players next month.
Provisional England World Twenty20 squad: Stuart Broad, (capt), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Gareth Batty, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Scott Borthwick, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Steven Croft, Steven Davies (wkt), Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wkt), Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Samit Patel, Matt Prior (wkt), Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Graeme Swann, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright