As Andrew Strauss will surely attest, it is a sizeable challenge to be involved in English cricket and escape the spectre of Kevin Pietersen.

Former Hampshire star Pietersen may be gone, at least from an international perspective, but it seems unlikely that he will be forgotten any time soon.

When Strauss uttered an unfortunate - if heartfelt - epithet about his one-time team-mate on commentary duty last weekend, it quickly became a social media sensation.

There are players in county cricket who will score a thousand first-class runs and never come close to generating the column inches that followed Strauss' subsequent apology.

And that is because Pietersen has the public's imagination.

His name will continue to be conjured up as England continue to rebuild following their winter humiliations.

Was Alastair Cook right to banish his country's top run-scorer? Did ECB managing director Paul Downton back the right horse when it became clear Cook and Pietersen were no longer happy bedfellows? If results fail to right themselves, will there be any prospect of rebuilt bridges?

Pietersen himself fanned the flames after his appearance in the Lord's Bicentenary match when he declared himself young enough, fit enough and with enough credentials to play for England for the next three years.

For the ticket-buying public, that was a tantalising hint of reconciliation, but deep down Pietersen must know he is as likely to play cricket on the moon as he is to wear the Three Lions again.

And, commentary-box faux-pas aside, the clock is also ticking on how long he maintains a stranglehold on the English game's whispering classes.

So far, the idea that he might rub Cook and Downton's noses in their decision by lighting up Surrey's NatWest T20 Blast campaign has proved fanciful.

If Pietersen backed his chances of flogging county attacks while his former international team-mates struggled along without him, he has fallen short.

In six matches to date he has been dismissed in single figures on three occasions, failed to reach the crease once and made scarcely barely relevant contributions of 16no and 24no while being overshadowed by protege Jason Roy.

His part-time status, and apparent disinclination to mucky his whites in a championship outing, appears to be lessening his impact as a batsman and ushering him ever quicker into the role of sideshow.

Had he genuine aspirations of returning to Test cricket - or, perhaps, a fighting chance of being allowed to - he would need to be playing every game of cricket on offer and posting major scores.

Instead, he is reduced to weekly outings in a tournament shorn of many of the overseas stars of years gone by and is soon to depart for the Caribbean Premier League.

By the time of his hotly-anticipated autobiography in October, he is likely to be even more removed - a frustration to his foes in the media more than a viable option to usurp them on the field.

However the story pans out, with the odds firmly stacked against a happy reunion, it is an unedifying way for what was once a wonderfully productive partnership to end.