England cricket in crisis

Pietersen walks as Strauss steps up

Cricinfo staff

January 7, 2009

Comments: 91 | Text size: A | A

Top Curve

Five tumultuous months


A corrugated relationship © Getty Images

  • June 2008 Stands in for the absent Paul Collingwood for Lord's ODI against New Zealand

  • August 4, 2008 Has long discussion with Moores before being named as Michael Vaughan's successor following England's series defeat to South Africa. Recalls Steve Harmison and stamps his mark on the side

  • August 6, 2008 Moores denies rift with Pietersen. "He'll be his own man and that's going to be really important," Moores said.

  • August 7-11, 2008 Cracks a stroke-laden 100 on Test captaincy debut, leading England to a six-wicket win at The Oval. Begins to talk up England's Ashes chances.

  • November, 2008 England lose to Stanford Superstars in the Stanford 20/20 for 20. Admits that England were distracted by off-the-field "nonsense"

  • December, 2008 Leads the full England squad back to India following the Mumbai terrorist attacks that cast a doubt over the tour. India win the series 1-0 but Pietersen's leadership is highly praised, even though doubts persist about his tactics after India's record run-chase at Chennai

  • December 29, 2008 Michael Vaughan is not picked for England's tour of West Indies in February, a key factor in the dispute which leads to Pietersen's eventual resignation

  • January 1, 2009 Calls for emergency talks with the ECB over the role of Moores

  • January 4, 2009 "Obviously this situation is not healthy," Pietersen writes in his newspaper column. "We have to make sure it is settled as soon as possible and certainly before we fly off to the West Indies."

  • January 7, 2009 Pietersen resigns, just over five months into his tenure, but insists he is committed to playing for England in the future. At a press conference Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, announces that Moores has been sacked

Bottom Curve

Kevin Pietersen has stepped down as England captain with immediate effect and Peter Moores has been sacked as coach after a tumultuous day for English cricket. Andrew Strauss has been named captain for the tour of West Indies later this month and the ECB will begin an immediate search for a new coach.

However, Pietersen denied the reports which claimed he had resigned early on Wednesday morning and it was only after discussions with the ECB during the day that he felt his hand had been forced. "I wish to make it very clear that I did not resign as captain of the England cricket team this morning," he said in a statement. "However, in light of recent communications with the ECB, and the unfortunate media stories and speculation that have subsequently appeared, I now consider that it would be extremely difficult for me to continue in my current position with the England cricket team."

Hugh Morris, the managing director of England Cricket, read a statement at a hastily arranged press conference at The Oval. "It's been a complicated and difficult day. The ECB late this afternoon have accepted with regret the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as England captain.

"Kevin recognised that in the present situation it was impossible to restore the dressing room unity, which is vital, if England are to win the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean, the ICC global events or regain the Ashes in the Ashes Test series.

"Kevin Pietersen is highly valued as a senior and experienced player and we are delighted that he has indicated he wishes to continue to represent England in all their forthcoming international fixtures, starting in the Caribbean later this month."

The ECB were left in complete turmoil on a day of rumours, denials and high drama, following the emergency board meeting that took place on Tuesday evening to discuss the rift in the leadership of the team.

In a brief statement on Wednesday afternoon, the ECB had insisted they had "no knowledge" of the departure of either Pietersen or Moores, although they admitted that Pietersen had not been prepared to tour West Indies under the current management structure.

Pietersen, perhaps misjudging the mood of his employers, did not depart from his holiday in South Africa until Wednesday afternoon, by which time the 12-man board had already met, by teleconference, on Tuesday night. At that meeting, it was decided that the captain would have to pay the price for his attitude. It was felt that to accede to his demands would set a dangerous precedent for future disputes, one in which the whims of individuals would take precedence over structures.

In response, it initially appeared that Pietersen had taken his future into his own hands, and handed back the role he took on from Michael Vaughan barely five months ago. At 9am GMT, Sky News reported his resignation, giving as his reasoning the fact that the ECB did not act quickly enough in responding to his demands over Moores' future. Speaking briefly on the phone, Pietersen told the programme: "I am not in a fit state to talk."

Strauss, who captained England in 2006 when Vaughan was out of the team with injury, was the hot favourite to lead them on the tour of West Indies, which begins in exactly a fortnight's time. His reappointment, two-and-a-half years after he was overlooked for the Ashes tour in favour of Andrew Flintoff, represents a remarkable turnaround for a player who, this time last year, was dropped from the Test side following a prolonged run of poor form.

"Andrew Strauss has agreed to lead the team to the Caribbean," Morris said. "He led the England team with distinction in 2006 when Michael Vaughan was injured."

Meanwhile, Moores' departure comes as less of a surprise. His position became untenable following the revelations of the rift, and there had been little evidence of progress under his tenure and his credibility had been damaged beyond repair.

"With regard to Peter Moores, the board determined that he should relinquish his role as England team director," Morris added. "I have the greatest respect for the dignity which Peter Moores has shown in recent days when he has found himself under extreme pressure. The ECB wish him well in his future roles."

Cricinfo understands that Andy Flower, Moores' assistant coach, was offered the interim role for the West Indies tour, although Morris said an announcement on the coaching set-up would be made in the coming days.

Speaking to the News of the World earlier in the week, Pietersen said: "This situation is not healthy, we have to make sure it is settled as soon as possible and certainly before we fly off to the West Indies. Everybody has to have the same aims and pull in the same direction for the good of the England team."

Research conducted by Morris, however, suggested that Pietersen did not have the steadfast support of his team-mates or the back-room staff. The majority of the England support staff are understood to be supportive of Moores while most of the players are underwhelmed by Pietersen's dramatic intervention, as Steve Harmison demonstrated with his ambivalent comments on Tuesday.

There was also some sympathy towards Moores who, it is understood, was given the authority to select the England captain when Paul Collingwood and Vaughan resigned, and there are those within the set-up who feel that Pietersen had betrayed the coach's trust.

Attitudes towards Pietersen appeared to have hardened at board level. While few are completely convinced by Moores, they did not like the manner in which the captain has attempted to dictate events. As one board member told Cricinfo: "People who want to keep their jobs don't issue ultimatums."

The news brings to an end a tumultuous five-month reign. When Pietersen took on the role in August 2008 following Vaughan's resignation, he immediately declared that he intended to do the job "his way". With a maiden Test triumph over South Africa, followed by a 4-0 victory in the ODIs, his way was the high way during a heady honeymoon period.

But then came England's disastrous showing in Allen Stanford's 20/20 for 20 showdown in Antigua, in which England lost the chance to win US$1 million per man for a single evening's work when they were bowled out by the Stanford Superstars for 99. Pietersen blamed the team's performance on off-field "nonsense", including floodlight issues and a high-profile faux pas involving the player's wives, but there were no such ex cuses when England were subsequently thrashed 5-0 in their one-day series against India.

That tour was foreshortened after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November, and though Pietersen earned huge credit for his role in persuading the team to rejoin the tour for the two-match Test series, and for his remarkable century at Mohali, his tactical nous came under scrutiny during their 1-0 defeat, especially after the team failed to defend 387 in the first match at Chennai.

But all throughout his tenure, rumours of his dissatisfaction with Moores' methods were never far from the surface. Pietersen did not accept the job until he had had "clear the air" talks with Moores in the aftermath of Vaughan's resignation, and he later voiced his disapproval of Moores' dogmatic training methods that sapped the team's energy on their tour of New Zealand in March. Matters are believed to have come to a head in the lead-up to the Mohali Test, where the relationship between Pietersen and Moores reached the point of no return.

Although Kent's coach, Graham Ford, had been touted as Moores' probable successor, his candidature had been raised with a view to finding a man who could work alongside Pietersen. Ashley Giles is another option, although Warwickshire have warned they may not necessarily keep his job as the county's director of cricket open, should he be asked to fulfil a role as "stop-gap" coach in the Caribbean.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by perthwacoffeman on (January 12, 2009, 7:28 GMT)

I wonder if there is any truth in the rumour doing the rounds in Australia that this problem is not just cricket related? Allegedly Mrs Moores & Mrs Pietersen fell out big time on the Stanford trip to WI as to who should organise the WAGS which eventually led to the impasse between Captain & Coach.Time will no doubt reveal all, remember you heard it here first!!!! Sounds so implauseable to be correct!!!

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (January 8, 2009, 18:16 GMT)

What a farce! Once again Lords shows it cannot handle charisma and flair. Moores should have left at the end of the summer,as he was obviously no Fletcher. Having crowned KP ,the ECB should have have stuck by him and edited one or two of KP's more expansive remarks or at least helped him to know in advance how much he could say. As for England giving him the chop and people reading too much into him leaving SA,perhaps we should look at the !5 centuries in 43 Tests and the way they have been made.KP rocks! It's just a pity no-one backed him on selecting Vaughan for WI.

Posted by Arthur on (January 8, 2009, 16:43 GMT)

Kevin Pietersen should concentrate on his game, and realise he is not bigger than cricket. The issue is not whether Moores is a 'clipboard coach' as much as how anyone - given Pietersen's abrasiveness - is able to get on with him. Apparently, in one article I have read, there are very few players in the squad who were happy with the ex-South African's appointment. Captaincy is obviously a big thing in the cricketing world. Now we are not sure if Kevin who'd have made a success of it - given the events now. I am almost prompted to say that Kevin should be left out of the tour to the West Indies - it seems he has initiated this sorry mess. But... cricket in all its forms needs guys like Kevin - his unpredictable nature in terms of his batting brings people into the grounds. And KP should remember that as captain you can only be successful as those under you allow you to be. So maybe it means that it could be a blessing in disguise. C'mon KP leave the captaincy for another day!

Posted by gudolerhum on (January 8, 2009, 13:46 GMT)

The WI and OZ must be rolling with laughter. Just what the down & out WI need, a chance to beat a team higher up the ladder when that team is selfdestructing. Unfortunately the ECB seems as inept as the WICB which is saying a lot! How KP will fit in with the team to the WI is beyond imagination. Dressing room unity will be nonexistent. He should drop out of the tour voluntarily or the ECB should leave him out. Why worry about KP? He does not give a hoot about the team or he would not have taken this attitude about Moores from the beginning. Vaughan has not proved he is ready for the tour of the WI but he is a KP buddy. Try to see KP for what he is, do not allow the incompetence of the ECB to cloud what KP is doing. He is a talented player and believes that whatever he wants is best for the team, he is evidently not willing to accept alternative views. That is not the quality of a leader, it is a selfish person. Ashes hopes goodbye!

Posted by LuckyLuckyJJ on (January 8, 2009, 13:11 GMT)

I'm glad this has happenned and in good time before the Ashes. Strauss is a superb captain. His batting average improved when he stood in for Vaughan against Pakistan and he is a calm strategic thinker. Ideally positioned in the slips, he doesn't have to worry about bowling himself or his ego. Let Pieterson focus on his destructive batting and Strauss will knit together the dispirate factions in the dressing room, so we can beat the Aussie plums.

Posted by Lover112 on (January 8, 2009, 12:06 GMT)

Its very sad to hear KP was a great captain he always led the team from front. Anywayz whatever happend is not good for England.Well i m looking forward to see the WI under a new captain. So best of luck STRAUS.!!

Posted by InsatiaBull on (January 8, 2009, 11:45 GMT)

"Hold on a bit. We just beat RSA despite losing our two best bowlers and our best all-rounder, and we had big chances in the two tests" -well hopefully you would have -SA had to bat last in every test in a home series with a crippled skipper and still beat you. Seems you never beat Australia -just win more matches.

Posted by gavbergin on (January 8, 2009, 11:32 GMT)

Well, better late than never. Andrew Strauss is clearly the perfect man to receive the honour of the position as captain of England. It should not be forgotten that the job IS an honour above all. These are not the words of an Englishman-anyone who knows the history of cricket realises the great prestige that comes with the position, along with the challenge. It is a great shame that these points were not kept in mind by the protaganists of this latest story.

The ECB erred greatly in failing to appoint Strauss previously, in 2006 and last summer, when Michael Vaughan resigned the job. It seemed as if Strauss was too obviously the right man for the job-that they couldn't see the answer staring them in the face.

Let's hope that the right road is finally being taken. Certainly Andrew Strauss will show more poise than Kevin Pietersen ever could.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (January 8, 2009, 11:30 GMT)

This sums it up well:

"unjustifiable..to sack Peter Moores, the England Coach while allowing the Captain to resign.... Kevin should be omitted from the squad to the West Indies."

Posted by rohanbala on January 08 2009, 03:55 AM GMT

If Moores was in any way unsuitable that should have been dealt with by the ECB in a proper manner. It is not dishonourable to fail to match up to the requirements of the job. If he was unsuitable the blame lies with those who appointed him. Who knows whether Moores' apparent failure was in part due to Pieterson's attitude over a period of time? It seems his biggest mistake was to choose Pieterson as captain; for that he is culpable.

Pietersons behaviour was unacceptable. Allowing him to remain in the squad was deplorable; the ECB seem to have placed winning above sporting integrity. Let us hope it backfires and there is a big sort out.

Posted by tatendataona on (January 8, 2009, 11:07 GMT)

What is the big whooraah about KP? He is the same guy who said a lot of unflattering comments when he left SA for England and it seems his reputation for bringing the game into disrepute has followed him. First, it was William Gallas and now him. The celebrity captain bug has certainly bit again. And whats the fascination about Zimbabwean coaches in the England set up? Fletcher and possibly Flower getting the nod after a possibly good tour of the windies. Wierd that the poms don't wanna play in zim for political reasons but certainly dont mind a Zimbo coach. Whats the difference between playing against Taibu and Pricey and getting coached by Flowzy? Yep, another tasteless episode in the uninspired soap opera called English cricket. Yawn!

What now for the ECB?
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