Former England captain Michael Vaughan has challenged Kevin Pietersen to prove he wants to play for England by turning his back on the Indian Premier League and playing county cricket.

Former Hampshire batsman Pietersen was axed from the England set-up in February last year in the aftermath of the 5-0 Ashes series defeat to Australia, but was given hope of a possible return by incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Colin Graves.

Graves said in a recent BBC Radio 5 Sportsweek interview that Pietersen, who left Surrey last autumn, has to play county cricket if he harbours any hopes of an England return and Vaughan agrees with this viewpoint.

''You say it for a while you want to play for England - prove it!'' he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

''Give up your IPL deal, go and play for, say, Surrey - freezing cold away at Derby.''

Vaughan added: ''If Kevin is going to do exactly what he's been saying and he's desperate to play (for England), he will play county cricket and I will pretty much guarantee that he will score plenty of runs doing it.''

Pietersen was in optimistic mood on Monday that an unlikely reconciliation may be achieved, tweeting: ''Incredibly humbling how supportive you've all been since the news broke yesterday from Mr Colin Graves. Gonna try work this out for sure!''

Indications since Graves' interview appear to have been broadly less encouraging for the exiled 34-year-old batsman, however, who was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for the upcoming IPL season in February.

The ECB issued a statement on Sunday evening, insisting ''nothing has changed'' in his status and adding ''only players who are playing consistent high-quality county cricket and who are seen as a positive influence will be selected for England''.

Surrey de-registered Pietersen at the end of last season, and are not publicly inclined to reopen negotiations.

Chairman Richard Thompson said: ''Our understanding at the end of last summer was that Pietersen had no intention of playing red-ball cricket.

''If not, he will not play for Surrey.''

There was little engagement in the topic from Pietersen's former team-mate Joe Root who - along with his current colleagues - has more pressing issues to confront in Australia and New Zealand as England try to stay in the World Cup after three defeats in four matches so far.

Root told the BBC: ''We're in the middle of the World Cup, and stuff like that is completely irrelevant to us.''