KEVIN PIETERSEN will be available to play for Hampshire in next week's crunch championship match against Warwickshire at Stratford following his omission from the England squad for the opening Test of the summer against Bangladesh.

Pietersen was overlooked in favour of Ian Bell despite his return to form against Kent at Canterbury on Friday, when he smashed 125 from 111 balls as the England selectors discussed the make up of the 12-man squad that was announced yesterday.

It means that he can play in a key championship match against second-placed Warwickshire, who will be without Bell when Hampshire visit Stratford on May 25.

Pietersen was understandably disappointed to hear that he will have to wait for his Test debut - but admitted that his maiden Hampshire ton had come too late.

He said: "It's disappointing, but I haven't scored as many runs as I should have done. I didn't have a good start to the season but hopefully Friday changed things and I can start scoring runs a bit more freely now.

"I'd love to have been in the team. Shane Warne said he would have had me in his side but he's not an England selector so it doesn't really matter!"

"All the best to Ian Bell and the rest of the boys, chairman of selectors David Graveney rang me and said 'commiserations' and all that kind of stuff and I hope they win convincingly."

Pietersen is likely to return to international action when the one day series begins next month.

He added: "It's a long summer - there's seven Test matches and nine or ten one-day internationals. I'm feeling good and batting well and hopefully I can just keep scoring runs. Hopefully I've done enough to stay in the one-day side."

Hampshire skipper Shane Warne admitted that he was surprised at Pietersen's exclusion.

He said: "From a selfish point of view it's good that he's available for us because we've got quite a few important games coming up but from Kevin's point of view, I'm disappointed and surprised because I think he's the most dangerous batsman in the country.

"Whatever side plays the first Test against Bangladesh will, barring injuries, be the side that plays the first Test against Australia because Bangladesh are no good."

England squad: Michael Vaughan (capt), Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Strauss, Graham Thorpe, Ian Bell, Andrew Flintoff, Geraint Jones (wk), Ashley Giles, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Jon Lewis.