Kevin Pietersen to seek Ashes lift in South Africa

Updated: Sep 09, 2010, 22:14 PM IST

London: England`s Kevin Pietersen is set to play for South African franchise the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) Dolphins in October in a bid to find his form before the Ashes tour later this year.

Pietersen has requested permission to join the provincial side and is seeking clearance from Cricket South Africa to play two four-day matches from Oct. 7-17, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I`m extremely keen to get as much cricket as possible under my belt before a challenging and exciting winter," South African-born Pietersen said in the statement.

"My sole focus is to continue playing a leading role for England and joining Natal is the perfect opportunity to prepare in excellent conditions immediately before the Ashes.”

"These two matches would enable me to work on my game against the Kookaburra ball in Southern hemisphere conditions which is the ideal preparation for Australia."

Pietersen, who made his first-class debut for the Durban-based Dolphins during the 1997-98 season before relocating to England, will not be paid for his time with the side, a KZN cricket official, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

"Kevin will play two SuperSport Series matches for us," the official said. "It is a win-win situation because we are not paying him anything and he gets to prepare for the Ashes."

Pietersen was dropped by England for the Twenty20 internationals and one-dayers against Pakistan because the selectors felt he would benefit from playing as much cricket as possible.

The 30-year-old right-hander, part of the Twenty20 World Cup-winning side this year and voted player of that tournament, was fined an undisclosed sum this week after posting a message on Twitter, which contained an expletive, announcing he had been dropped.

Pietersen has passed fifty for England just once this season and the last of his 16 Test centuries was scored against West Indies in March, 2009.

"We`re very pleased Kevin is seeking to get some more high quality cricket in at a crucial period before the Ashes," England coach Andy Flower said.

"Kevin`s commitment and desire to work on his batting and play a significant part in a successful England team is unquestioned and this proposed arrangement with Natal, initiated by Kevin himself, further underlines that."

The Ashes series in Australia starts in November.

Bureau Report