Kevin Pietersen was axed from the England team due to the need for “everyone [to be] able to trust each other” and in support of captain Alastair Cook, the England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed.
Pietersen revealed his England career was over on Tuesday after it was announced he would not be in the squads for the tour of the Caribbean and the ICC World Twenty20.
In the following days, the ECB had been at great pains to make only the most careful public comment about the reasons for deciding Pietersen was suddenly surplus to its requirements.
Former England captains Ian Botham and Michael Vaughan were among those who called for England’s hierarchy to be more transparent over Pietersen’s exit.
And a statement issued jointly by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association read: “The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the past decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.
“However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.”
Pietersen’s England career nearly came to an end in the summer of 2012 after it was discovered he had sent derogatory text messages about then captain Andrew Strauss to members of the touring South African team.
The 33-year-old then went through a “reintegration” period with the team and it had appeared his international career was back on track until this week’s events saw the curtain come down on a man who is England’s leading run- scorer across all formats.
Strauss pre-empted the ECB statement’s emphasis on trust when he wrote in his Sunday Times column: “Without trust, the team environment is stillborn. It is for this reason that Kevin Pietersen’s international career had to be brought to an end.
“The media have been searching for a ‘smoking gun’. Everyone is looking for disciplinary problems, bust-ups and character clashes, but they are looking for the wrong thing. The smoking gun is the total absence of trust.”
Yesterday’s statement also appears to address tweets from Pietersen’s celebrity confidant Piers Morgan regarding team meetings towards the end of England’s Ashes whitewash in Australia this winter.
England vice-captain Matt Prior, and stalwart all-rounder Tim Bresnan on the wicketkeeper’s behalf, have both been moved to respond – also via Twitter – to Morgan’s accusations. Prior took issue with the suggestion he had “stabbed [Pietersen] in the back”.
And the ECB statement read: “Allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England team director [the now-departed Andy Flower] and some of England’s players. It is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.”
Lucrative offers doubtless await Pietersen in Thursday’s Indian Premier League auction. There is also the prospect of signing on with other clubs or franchises, such as Surrey, thought to be keen to retain the batsman’s services after his contract there lapsed at the same time his ECB deal ended.