The England Cricket Board have finally spoken out about February’s dismissal of former star Kevin Pietersen after two months of silence.
Managing Director of the ECB, Paul Downton, said that the decision to axe Pietersen from the national team’s plans was due to the 33-year-old becoming disconnected from the setup—as Nick Hoult of The Telegraph reported:
Watch what happened in Australia. What you saw was a senior player who had become disconnected from the team. I watched every ball of the Sydney Test match and I have never seen anyone so disengaged from what was going on. What you need from a senior player is backing and support and everybody working together, but we had got to a stage where that was no longer the case.
Downton went on to shut the door on the prospect of Pietersen making a return to action with England, saying:
I think the sooner we understand that Kevin has had his time the better. We are moving on without Kevin. People have been looking for a smoking gun, but there are no specific issues. This is about 10 years of Kevin scoring runs very well for England but getting to a point where the balance shifted. During those 10 years we had a strong side with strong leadership at the time and that side in the past could accommodate Kevin—that balance has shifted and a new side won't accommodate Kevin.
Per ESPN Cricinfo, Pietersen scored 8,181 Test runs for England, picking up 23 centuries with an average of 47.28.
He’s undoubtedly been one of the best English batsmen in the modern era, but his performance in the 2013/14 Ashes left a lot to be desired, posting an average of 38.80 over the series with two single-figure returns in the final Sydney Test.
However, it was an all-round poor performance from the English in Australia, being whitewashed 5-0 by the Aussies, and Pietersen appeared to be used as a scapegoat by the ECB.
With Alastair Cook proving far less effective as England captain since taking the responsibility, the ECB said that his performances may have been impacted by Pietersen’s attitude, per The Guardian back in February:
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.
Had England romped to an Ashes victory Down Under, then would Pietersen have been dismissed? Of course not, though surely the circumstances would be the same under Cook—leading to mass criticism for the board.
I can confirm Kevin Pietersen has been SACKED by the pathetic, spineless losers at the @ECB . Unbelievable.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 4, 2014
Pietersen must now focus on his career away from the international scene with Surrey at county level and in the Indian Premier League with the Delhi Daredevils.
For England, though, a serious rebuilding mission is required; and maybe now that the Pietersen rumours have almost been put to bed, they can finally move on.
Doing so without one of the best batsmen to ever take to a crease, though, could prove a big task.