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Cricket: Pietersen still has England hope

Kevin Pietersen insisted Friday he still wanted to play for England again as he urged the selectors to be "braver" with their choices for the national side.

LONDON: Kevin Pietersen insisted Friday he still wanted to play for England again as he urged the selectors to be "braver" with their choices for the national side.

Pietersen was controversially axed by England following the team's 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia even though he is England's all-time leading run-scorer.

South Africa-born Pietersen, a former England captain, hasn't given up on an international recall although the present hierarchy, including Test skipper Alastair Cook, are adamantly opposed to his return to the team.

Asked whether Cook was still the right man to lead England following their recent 1-0 loss to Sri Lanka in a home Test series, a guarded ex-England skipper Pietersen said: "That's not for me to say."

However, Pietersen -- who will play for the Rest of the World side against MCC in the Lord's bicentenary match on Saturday -- said he would love to return to the 'home of cricket' to take part in a full international once again.

"I never give up, I'm only 34, I'm still young so hopefully one day I can play here in front of full houses but I just want to enjoy Saturday," Pietersen told Sky Sports News.

"I've got the hunger for it and the body's good so I want to go out there and do well," added Pietersen, who has a superb Test record at Lord's with five hundreds in 15 matches and a total tally of 1,235 runs at an average of 56.13.

Having seen England lose to Sri Lanka, their first Test series since he was sent into international exile, Pietersen called for greater boldness all round.

"In order for the public to get hold of the team and to accept what's going on (we need) braver selections," he told Sky Sports News.

"The talent is there, there are some fantastic cricketers out there. England just need to be a little bit more brave, if you're going to talk the talk you'd better walk the walk."

Meanwhile Shane Warne said he expected Pietersen to seize a chance to shine on Saturday.

Warne, widely regarded as cricket's greatest leg-spinner, will captain former Hampshire colleague Pietersen against an equally star-studded MCC team led by India hero Sachin Tendulkar.

The Australian, who championed Pietersen's cause ahead of his Test debut in 2005, only to be on the receiving end of the strokemaker's blistering Ashes-clinching 158 at The Oval that year, was in no doubt of his quality.

"KP is an absolute match-winner," Warne told a Lord's news conference on Friday.

"He is a superstar and a wonderful player. He is fantastic to watch, I'm sure he will turn it on on Saturday and smash it all over the park. He has played well over the years at Lord's in his time with England and hopefully he can do that on Saturday."

Warne has been repeatedly critical of Cook's tactics in the field, particularly during the Sri Lanka series.

Although his colourful life off the field meant Warne never captained Australia in a Test match, he was widely regarded as one of the best tacticians of his age and did skipper both his home state of Victoria and English county Hampshire.

"I think you can always improve as a player and as a captain, some people are naturally a leader and some people it doesn't suit them," Warne said.

"You can improve but you are either a leader or you are not and if you are not a leader and you try to force something it doesn't really work."

Tendulkar, who only retired in November, said he hadn't missed cricket too much.

"I have enjoyed my time with the family, I started practising 10 days ago and it is nice to be back in the gear and hitting a few balls -- I'm still trying to find the centre of the bat," said Tendulkar, cricket's all-time leading Test and one-day international run-scorer.

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