England in crisis January 6, 2009

Harmison calls for unity

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison: wants the row to be settled for the good of the team © Getty Images
Steve Harmison has become the first England squad player to speak out on the rift between Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen, urging the pair to sort out their differences for the good of the team.

Often happier to stay away from media attention, Harmison said the issue is not about individuals and any split in the camp will tear the team apart.

"They have got to get their heads together and have a chat and sort out the issues," he told BBC Sport. "It's about the England cricket team -- not Peter Moores or Kevin Pietersen.

"It's not ideal at this moment in time because we are at the start of an Ashes summer and we don't want it to go on and on with what we've got coming over the next nine months. They will come and go like all other players, but they have got to be in harmony because otherwise they will drift the team further apart."

Harmison owes his current England place to Pietersen, who lobbied successfully for his recall the moment he became captain. Harmison returned to face South Africa at The Oval before being persuaded to reverse his one-day retirement and was later included in England's Stanford Super Series squad.

However, the early promise shown on his return faded in India when he was dropped during both the one-day and Test series.

Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, and a close friend of Moores, has stepped in to mediate in the row, although the final decision on Moores' position will be taken by David Collier, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The situation, though, is looking increasingly tough to solve through a few handshakes. Moores has only won eight of his 22 Tests in charge, with seven of those against poor New Zealand and West Indies teams.

Support for Pietersen has come from Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire coach, who was involved when Pietersen fell out with the county in 2004 and moved to Hampshire. Newell said that the divide between captain and coach will be hard to mend now that the row has become so public

"You want to be backing the captain but you set a very dangerous precedent if you over-rule the coach to give the captain what he wants," he told the Press Association. "It would be better to get an agreement between them and get on with it but it being in the public domain now makes that more difficult.

"It's Hugh Morris' job to mediate in all this but, with the stage at which this is at, there does not appear much way back," he said. "Kevin is our best player by a long way, not only the captain, so it's a very difficult situation.

"We have had things like this at county level several times in the last few years but never at the very top."