Revealed: the case against Pietersen
ESPNcricinfo is in possession of a legal document that provides a clear insight into the ECB state of mind as it contends with the fallout from the end of Kevin Pietersen's England career.
The existence of one or more Pietersen documents has been a subject of contention since Pietersen walked off the field in Sydney last January for the last time in an England shirt. This one covers the Ashes series and illustrates how he has been cast as a serial offender whose alleged behaviour undermined the authority of the coach and captain.
Pietersen himself refers in his autobiography to being alerted within days of the end of the Ashes series to the existence of what he prefers to dismiss as an "imaginary dossier".
This is not quite the dirty dossier the cricket world hankers after. It was, however, drawn up to assist the ECB legal team. It outlines the breakdown in relationships between Pietersen and the England team director, Andy Flower, which is forthrightly described in the autobiography.
The ECB confirmed the document was part of the Pietersen analysis, but stated: "It is simply part of a privileged legal document, produced by the ECB's lawyers compiling information as part of the ECB's internal due diligence ahead of the release of the Kevin Pietersen book."
It is recorded that Pietersen "ranted" at Flower after the Melbourne Test - a conversation he has recorded in some detail in his autobiography. But Pietersen has been less forthcoming about the document's allegation that he described Alastair Cook's captaincy as "weak" and "tactically inept". In that same heated meeting, Graeme Swann, who has dismissed Pietersen's autobiography as "a work of fiction", is allegedly described as "a c***".
The document then solemnly observes that Flower did not speak to Pietersen during the final Test in Sydney or, indeed, for the rest of the tour.
The five-page document, marked STRICTLY PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL, has reached ESPNcricinfo independently and seeks to assemble evidence of Pietersen's rebellious and agitated state of mind as England careered to a 5-0 defeat in the Test series. There are sound reasons to regard it as playing a genuine part in the negotiations.
Elements of this document are now being leaked into the public domain and are believed to be only part of a much larger analysis of Pietersen's allegedly recalcitrant behaviour during the final years of his England career which seems to counter his self-portrayal as a victimised player bullied by an England clique.
The charge sheet against Pietersen is unlikely to bring unity. Some will contend that the ECB had assembled convincing reasons to end an association with a player who had clearly become a liability, whereas others will regard it as essentially a petty victimisation of Pietersen which fails to disguise a sorry failure of man management.
As with the reaction to his autobiography, the dividing lines are likely to remain as deep as ever.
The document gives a flavour of the clash between Flower's severe managerial regime and Pietersen's more freewheeling approach to life when it considers an incident several days before the second Test in Adelaide.
"Upon arrival in Adelaide for the Second Test, AF [Andy Flower] gave express instructions to players not to stay out late and not to give the scandal-voracious press any ammunition, which KP immediately disobeyed by taking out two young players drinking with him until late (an incident which was front page news in the Adelaide press the following day)."
With England 2-0 down before the Perth Test, the dossier earnestly records that "an England team physiotherapist" told Flower that if England lost the Test his knee was "really going to be playing up". This is presumably taken to be the language of insubordination.
The report states: "Prior to the Perth Test, an England team physiotherapist approached AF to inform AF that KP had told him that KP was looking to do anything to go home after the Perth Test if England lost the match to go 3‐0 down. KP allegedly told the physio that if England lost the match, his knee was "going to be really playing up".
It was after the fourth Test, though, that the relationship between Flower and Pietersen finally foundered for good. The notes read:
"- KP stated that AC [Alastair Cook] was weak, tactically inept and that AC's latest effort to galvanise the team was "pathetic".
- KP ranted, saying GS [Graeme Swann] is a "c***", the team was "s***" and having a go at AF and his coaching.
- KP stated that, in order to build team spirit, AF needed to "let the players go out and get p*ssed, especially the younger players".
- AF told KP at the end of the meeting that he was amazed that after 7 years of working together and AF bending over backwards for KP, that KP would talk to AF like that and be so incredibly disloyal as to try to get rid of AF like that behind AF's back. KP then left AF's hotel room."
Further charges follow, not all of them immediately seeming of import: criticism of Michael Carberry's ability, a complimentary comment about Gary Ballance's South African accent and, a sin that has gained unusual publicity, and a habit which he explains in his book that he picked from his father, an unappealing tendency after being dismissed towards casually whistling.
Even Piers Morgan gets a mention. "It riled the team and management that KP allowed Piers Morgan to belittle AC [Alastair Cook] and the team on social media. When asked by some of his team mates to get Piers Morgan to stop tweeting about the team, KP laughed at the players and told them to get a thicker skin."
After the Ashes series the end came quickly.
"AF was asked for his view on whether KP should form part of England team re-building process. AF said that AC and the Vice-Captain would struggle to re-build the team with sufficient unity or strength with KP involved."
The report then refers to the severance of Pietersen's contract with the observation that "the team needs to move on in a different direction with an emphasis on a strong, team-orientated culture."
This story was updated at 1750 on October 7 to clarify the nature of the document and 1850 with the ECB statement
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo