Former captain Andrew Strauss is sure England can put the Kevin Pietersen saga behind them and believes the star batsman’s apology over his text messages to South Africa players was sincere.
Pietersen criticised Strauss in the messages, but has since apologised and begun the process to be re-integrated into the England set-up after reversing his decision to retire from one-day cricket. Strauss, who has since retired from all forms of cricket, wrote to the England players and texted Pietersen, who was then not in the England squad, earlier this summer to bid them farewell.
Strauss said: “A lot had happened and during that period we were quite estranged from each other. Maybe it actually makes it easier for the team that I’m not there because some of it was directed to me. It would have been harder if I’d stayed.”
Strauss said he was not aware Pietersen had a problem with him and was surprised by the text affair. He said: “Nine-tenths of my time as England captain I found him a good guy to have in my team. I don’t think anyone got to the bottom of the text messaging saga. But Kevin has since come up to me and apologised for it and I respect that. He seemed contrite and I think he was sincere. Looking back I think it was wrong some of our players were following that [spoof KP Genius] Twitter account. But I still don’t think it’s a justification for what Kevin did.”
Strauss hopes Pietersen can successfully return to the England set-up. Strauss added: “If they can make it work then obviously England will be a better side with KP in it because he’s an outstanding player. But if, behind the scenes, things are difficult and resentment is harboured, and if KP is not fully committed to England, there are going to be problems. But it’s in everyone’s interests to make it work.”
It also emerged yesterday that Brit Insurance will not be renewing its contract as sponsor of the England team. The company has been the England team sponsor since 2010 and its logo appears on the shirts of the men’s and women’s national teams as well as the England Lions and England Disability sides, but it has decided not to renew its contract following changes to its business strategies.
The contract is due to expire in April 2014 after the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh but the ECB have confirmed that date could be brought forward a few months if a new sponsor is found and all parties are in agreement. England and Wales Cricket Board commercial director John Perera said: “The ECB thanks Brit for what has been an important and successful partnership for both parties. Brit has benefited from significant exposure as both the men’s and women’s teams have achieved extraordinary levels of success since the partnership began in 2010. Our search for a new sponsor will begin immediately and we anticipate significant interest from potential partners.”
During Brit’s sponsorship, the England men’s team won the World Twenty20 (2010), regained the Ashes in Australia (2011) and have been number one in both the Test and one-day rankings, while England Women are still top of the ODI rankings and are reigning ODI world champions. This year has not been such a good one for the men’s team though, as they lost top spot in the Test rankings to South Africa and surrendered their World Twenty20 title. The Pietersen controversy also dominated this summer’s headlines.
lPreston Mommsen could miss the rest of Scotland’s South African tour through injury. The Carlton batsman, tour skipper in the absence of Gordon Drummond, sustained a rib knock during last week’s three day clash with North West Dragons. Mommsen has been ordered to rest for up to ten days and is sure to miss the next four tour matches. At best he may be ready for two T20 clashes with a North West XI on 2 November and the final match against Highveld Lions two days later. Coach Pete Steindl revealed: “Preston landed awkwardly after diving in the field and has a rib problem.”
Steindl is looking for his men to build on last week’s draw against the Dragons when they face a Combined North West XI in Potchefstroom today. Northants wicketkeeper David Murphy will join Mommsen on the sidelines while Stoneywood-Dyce pace bowler Gordon Goudie is also being rested for the 50-over encounter. Greenock’s Richie Berrington is likely to captain the team.