The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will face the prospect of a £1M ($1.6M) legal action from batsman Kevin Pietersen "if he is not offered a new central contract by the end of this week," according to Nick Hoult of the London TELEGRAPH. Pietersen has been advised "he has strong grounds to bring an action for unfair dismissal and breach of contract against the ECB" if his central contract is not renewed when it expires on Sept. 30. The legal advice strengthens Pietersen’s position with England, although "gaining a central contract will not necessarily guarantee him a place" with the team, with Coach Andy Flower "one of the main obstacles" to him resuming his int'l career. Pietersen is believed to be bullish about his position, and the fact that "his reputation has been shredded already makes him less likely to back away from a legal fight." After service longer than 12 months, contracted staff are considered full-time employees in the eyes of the law. Pietersen has been centrally contracted by the ECB for six years and the failure to renew a fixed-term contract is technically dismissal by his employer. A case for unfair dismissal would probably be easier for Pietersen to win but compensation payments are capped by the government at £72,000 ($116,750) -- a "paltry sum to a highly-paid sportsman." Breach of contract "is far more serious and the case would have to be heard in the High Court," opening up the prospect of a bigger payout (TELEGRAPH, 9/26).
'ALL SORTED': In London, David Clough wrote that Pietersen's central contract "could be reinstated at any time, even after Monday's deadline." Pietersen recently wrote on his Twitter feed about his optimism that the situation is "all sorted," and he hopes to be back in the England fold in time to tour New Zealand early next year. His well-chronicled disputes with the ECB "appeared initially to centre on his wish to play a full Indian Premier League campaign next spring," at a time when England have Test match obligations. He subsequently committed himself to play for England, whenever selected, in all formats, but was nonetheless dropped from the team for last month's Lord's Test against his native South Africa, because of the content of "provocative" text messages he had sent to opposition players during the previous match at Headingley (INDEPENDENT, 9/27).