Cricket: Kevin Pietersen welcomed back into the fold as he signs ECB contract
KEVIN PIETERSEN'S return to the England fold was finalised today, as the star batsman signed a full central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Pietersen's relations with the board plummeted to an all-time low last year and after being dropped for the final Test of the summer against South Africa, he underwent a process of 'reintegration' before making his comeback in India before Christmas.
Since then he has been working on a short-term deal that expires at the end of the month, but limited-overs coach Ashley Giles today confirmed that Pietersen has penned a full central contract.
That places him on the same terms as the rest of England's senior figures, ending a period of uncertainty, with the current batch of contracts running until September 30.
Team director Andy Flower had given an indication last month that such a development could be expected after Pietersen's successful return in India.
The batsman played an important role in England's historic Test series victory, scoring 338 runs at an average of 48.28 including an innings of 186 in the second Test in Mumbai.
Pietersen's tumultuous 2012 saw him initially retire from 50-over and, reluctantly, Twenty20 internationals.
He soon expressed a desire to play on "in all forms of cricket" but then gave a dramatic press conference on August 6, after scoring 149 against South Africa at Headingley, in which he cast doubt on his Test future and claimed: "It's tough being me playing for England."
He was axed from the Test team before the third Test at Lord's amid the controversy surrounding his "provocative" exchange of phone messages with members of the South Africa team.
He missed the World Twenty20 and was not included in a batch of 10 central contracts handed out in September before also missing out in the initial squad announcement for the India tour on September 18.
He was added to the squad a month later, though, having held "constructive and cordial" talks with the ECB and agreed a return in all formats.