Kevin Pietersen was sacked after England got a 5-0 Ashes drubbing © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen was sacked after England got a 5-0 Ashes drubbing © Getty Images

London: The departure of Paul Downton from the England hierarchy has “opened the door” to Kevin Pietersen‘s return to international cricket, according to the star batsman’s Surrey team-mate Chris Tremlett. Downton’s exit as managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was announced on Wednesday bringing to an end a turbulent 15 months in charge that included the hugely controversial decision to terminate star batsman Pietersen’s international career following the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash loss in Australia.

But Pietersen, encouraged by incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves’s words that he is not barred permanently from the England set-up, is now preparing for his first County Championship action since 2013 after agreeing a new deal with Surrey as he tries to secure a Test recall through sheer weight of runs.

The 34-year-old Pietersen, a veteran of 104 Tests, is still England’s all-time leading run-scorer across all formats. Fast bowler Tremlett, who played alongside him in the victorious Ashes-winning side that toured Australia in 2010/11, said he was sure the top-order batsman could hit the heights again.

“Maybe that’s the case that those changes open a door,” said Tremlett of Downton’s ECB exit as he spoke to reporters during Surrey’s pre-season press day at the county’s Oval headquarters in south London on Thursday. “They were the guys who were in place that I guess made those rulings that he wasn’t going to come back and play for England.

“People have heard things from Colin Graves the last few weeks that he might have a chance of coming back. “I guess it’s just wait and see, who knows what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, other positions could change within the England set-up.

“But I think Kevin knows he’s got a chance if he goes out there and scores runs. “I think he feels he was harshly treated by being released from the ECB a year or so ago, so I think he’s got a point to prove and it will be exciting to see what happens. “I don’t see why he can’t get back into the England set-up.

“There’s been a couple of changes over the last couple of days with England, and I don’t know what’s going to happen there. “But I’m sure if he stacks up a lot of runs then people are going to be pushing for him to get back in the England side. “It will be interesting to see how it unravels in the next five or six weeks. “But from Surrey’s point of view we’re all hoping he gets out there and scores big runs.”

Downton’s exit has increased the pressure on several key members of the England hierarchy appointed before the arrival at Lord’s of former Yorkshire chairman Graves and new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

National selector James Whitaker is now in the spotlight and Thursday’s London Evening Standard said under-pressure England coach Peter Moores — who oversaw the team’s embarrassing first-round exit at the recent World Cup — faces being sacked regardless of how the side perform on their ongoing tour of the West Indies.