Stars hope Pietersen can play on beyond 2018

While Kevin Pietersen has declared his English Twenty20 career is over, the Melbourne Stars hope the England batting great has more than a season left in his Big Bash League career.
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Pietersen’s two-year deal with the Stars expires after this summer’s campaign, with the 37-year-old hopeful of another strong campaign amid what shapes as a powerful batting line-up.

Stars chief executive Clint Cooper dined with Pietersen, in Sydney for a promotional shoot, on Monday night.

He said the Stars’ list management team would wait until the end of the summer before consulting with the flamboyant star about his future.

“He has got everything to play for. If he plays the way he did last year, why wouldn’t he want to go around again? At this stage of his life, it’s what opportunities are in front of him and what is more important for his family,” Cooper told Fairfax Media.

“Regardless of whether he plays or doesn’t play on with us, he will certainly be involved with the club in some capacity. We had a club [event] around his rhino contribution [last summer], and that has gone worldwide. We will continue to work on that. He has been sensational for us, on and off the field, and I think we have been sensational with him, too.

“You only have to go back to the last Ashes campaign, and the perception of him from the n public is very different to what it was back then.”

Pietersen was eighth on the BBL run-scoring list last summer, but did not have the influence he had hoped for. Overall, he had a team-high 268 runs at 38.28 in eight matches, at a strike rate of 128.22. He passed 50 only twice and did not reach three figures. He had led the league with 323 runs at 40.37 in nine matches a year earlier, with a strike rate of 159.11 and four half-centuries.

Adelaide’s versatile power hitter Ben Dunk was the competition’s leading run-scorer last summer, with 364 at 52, including three half-centuries, and he has signed with the Stars.

“Essentially, we will review the entire list towards the end of the season. Someone like Kevin, who is an absolute superstar and done incredibly well for our club over the last three years, it basically is a year-by-year proposition at that age,” Cooper said.

“He certainly has a lot to offer … but as he inches closer to retirement other interests come in.”

Pietersen is likely to also have commentary duties in an Ashes summer, ensuring he will have plenty of time to prepare for the BBL.

“He is training relatively well. He will be out here for the summer, which is great. We will have a bit of time to get some practice into him, which will be terrific,” Cooper said.

Pietersen confirmed his career in England was over in August, after Surrey bowed out in the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast. He had managed only two matches because of a calf injury.

He said at the time he would continue to play T20 cricket overseas, and spend more time involved in his wildlife conservation programs in South Africa.

The Stars have confirmed they will play a practice match against the Hobart Hurricanes under lights at Traralgon Recreation Reserve on December 15. The expanded BBL begins on December 19, with the Stars, under new captain John Hastings, opening their campaign in Brisbane against the Heat on December 20.

Meanwhile, the Melbourne Renegades have added Gayle While, the deputy chief executive of Clemenger Melbourne, to their board. The board comprises Jason Dunstall (chairman), Paul Jackson, Jamie McPhee, Chris Nikou, Liam Pickering, Suzana Ristevski and While.