England's Pietersen dilemma August 15, 2012

Pietersen World Twenty20 hopes recede


Kevin Pietersen's chances of being reconciled to the England set-up and winning a place in their World Twenty20 squad appear to have receded after the ECB and Andrew Strauss confirmed that further discussions between the parties were needed, despite Pietersen's apology for sending "provocative" texts.

Strauss, England's captain and the subject of the allegedly derogatory texts sent by Pietersen to members of the South Africa squad, said "underlying issues on trust and respect" had to be addressed but that this was unlikely to take place until after the third Test against South Africa, for which Pietersen has been dropped. The deadline for England to submit their World T20 squad is Saturday, the third day of the Test, suggesting that Pietersen will not be recalled, as he desires.

After the ECB confirmed the receipt of Pietersen's apology, Strauss said that there were "broader issues" to be dealt with. He called the selectors' decision to leave Pietersen out "brave and very correct", saying that the batsman's presence at Lord's would have been "untenable".

"The truth is a lot has happened over the last seven days," Strauss said. "The England team has been in the news for the wrong reasons. We all want to move forward but there are some underlying issues on trust and respect that don't get dealt with over night and it's going to take quite a long time to overcome those. My personal point of view is that I prefer those issues to be dealt with in private, away from the media, without the help of PR companies and press releases and that is certainly the way I'll be approaching it going forward.

"The apology is a first step, definitely, but there is a lot more to investigate with all of this and in truth if there is a way forward those issues regarding trust and mutual respect have to be dealt with and it is not just a one-way process and we need to deal with those behind closed doors.

"It's been hanging over us since Kevin's press conference after the Headingley Test match. There was a certain amount of relief on Monday that a decision had been made and we can focus on Test. The challenge this week has been to not let it affect us on the field."

Discussions have been ongoing between the ECB and Pietersen's representatives after the batsman was omitted from the England squad for the third Test against South Africa. Pietersen was dropped for refusing to apologise for the texts, which he has now admitted sending, despite the ECB demanding it as a condition of his selection for the third Test.

In a statement, England managing director, Hugh Morris, said: "We are in receipt of Kevin's apology, but further discussions need to take place to establish whether it is possible to regain the trust and mutual respect required to ensure all parties are able to focus on playing cricket and to maintain the unity of purpose that has served us so well in recent years. Critically, those discussions should take place behind closed doors, rather than in the media spotlight.

"A successful conclusion to this process is in everyone's best interests and is required for Kevin Pietersen's potential selection in all forms of the game to be considered. At the moment we have an important Investec Test match to focus on and therefore ECB will make no further comment until such time as is appropriate."

South Africa have publicly described the text interactions as "banter", a word Pietersen echoed in his apology, whilst acknowledging the "upset and tension" the situation had caused.

Pietersen said: "I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends in the South Africa team. The texts were meant as banter between close friends. I need to rein myself in sometimes. I apologise to Straussy and the team for the inappropriate remarks at the press conference and for the texts. I truly didn't mean to cause upset or tension particularly with important games at stake."

Strauss has seen the build-up to his 100th Test overshadowed by the Pietersen imbroglio but was diplomatic about having to become involved. Pietersen has been in negotiations over his international workload with the ECB for some time - leading to his now-reneged retirement from limited-overs internationals earlier this year - but until his outburst in the wake of the Headingley Test, Strauss had not been party to the process.

"I wasn't involved in Kevin Pietersen's dispute with the board in any real way but once the players got involved it was very important that I got involved for the very reason that the feelings in the dressing room, the way the players interact with each other, the values we have as a group, are of vital importance to me and I'm not willing to turn a blind eye to that.

"It's going to be a long process. It is not the sort of thing that happens overnight. Unfortunately we have to address this issue. It is not one that we can sweep under the carpet. In order to move forward we need to address these issues head on and try and find some resolution to those.

"It is a broader issue than just the text messages. A lot has happened over the last week or so. It's about trust and mutual respect and any team that operates successfully needs to have that. And that is something we need to work on. It is not between me and him, particularly. The text messages sound like I was involved with it, but it is a broader issue, it is about the team and Kevin and how we interact with each other."

"He is a world-class player, I don't think anyone would deny that, and when he is playing well and everything is happy in the dressing room he is a great asset to the side but that is not where we are right at the moment and I think the selectors made a brave and very correct decision for this particular Test match that he didn't play because without the resolution to the issues that we need to resolve things would be a bit untenable in the dressing room for this game."

England must win the third and final Test of the series in order to defend the No. 1 Test ranking and Strauss admitted the side's preparations had not been ideal.

"It's going to be testing," he said. "As England captain things are sometimes thrown your way in a way that you have not necessarily been prepared to deal with.

"We have to look at the best way of moving forward and quite frankly for the next five or six days it is not going to be in the forefront of my mind. I have to concentrate on my batting and leading the side out in the middle and we will address these issues come the end of the Test match.

"Adversity can bring you slightly closer together. We have seen that before with us on a number of occasions. That is going to be the test of us this week. I have got every confidence that we can win this Test match. This is a great opportunity for us to show some strength and resolve and come through."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on August 18, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    KP has done wrong, other members of the England team may have done wrong and ECB have not handled this well - dirty washing everywhere! If the ECB carry on rubbing KP's nose in it - and don't move to mediate and diffuse - it going to get worse - and KP will either be excluded or walk away - leaving England with a 2nd rate team in all forms of the game.

    PS1 - i am not keen on KPs antics - but i am cricket fan and watching him bat, when he on form, is sublime.

    PS2 - Also talented people like KP tend to be mavericks - therefore managing difficult individuals should be in ECBs job description or will loose future players like pedalalo freddy, **** botham, **** lamb, and red baron gower etc.

  • Chris on August 17, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Who do you think KP wants to see win at Lords this weekend? That is clearly not a straight forward answer given how completely self-absorbed he is, and therefore to me says he shouldn't be a part of this England team. Although I think SA clearly deserve to win this series the way it has gone so far, I hope England win at Lords so Pietersen can't say "they can't win without me".

  • John on August 16, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    @ landl47 on (August 16 2012, 12:28 PM GMT) You're spot on there. I've said it myself before. Re the Gayle/WI saga - many of the WI fans blame the board whereas I and probably many other English fans would support Gibson/Gayle. I wonder how these people would react if they were football fans re Man City/Tevez?

  • Charles on August 16, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    There is still a huge way to go in this Saga especially now that the annoucement of the squad can be delayed until tuesday rather than this Saturday. A great scenario would be that we beat SA in 4 days and then KP saga is sorted with Andrew Strauss / Hugh Morris on Monday and he is in the squad on Tuesday . Pigs may have to fly but one can hope.

  • Shanmugam on August 16, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    @geedubnz, "ability suggests they belong on the test rankings", that would be conveniently above India, SL, NZ, and WI and just above Australia and Pakistan. Most likely, 2nd place. But, if we win this test, we will continue to stay 1st and I hope you wouldn't mind that, not that it would matter. BTW, are you seriously suggesting that England is blowing up this KP issue so that the focus is away from the cricket - they dd get thumped in the first test but at Headingley, they did reasonably well and the draw was a fair result. So, an evenly fought test that ended in a draw was a thumping to you? Beware as the fans of the test match draw specialists - India - would take offense to that:-) @IndiaNumeroUno, @jmcilhinney has explained what I wanted to say more eloquently. Repeatedly suggesting that the England dressing room is against Bopara merely exposes your warped mind. It is worse than something like the KKR dressing room is against Kallis or the MI dressing room is against Pollard.

  • Tootu on August 16, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    And why exactly is Mr.Strauss involved in T20 selections?

  • Bob on August 16, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    I'm afraid there is a bit more to the Sth African influence in this matter than meets the eye. For instance, if as they claim, the texts were simply "banter between team mates", that ignores the fact that the recipients and Pietersen are NOT team mates..Also if the texts were as they say they were... why when this blew up were they deleted from the Sth Africans phones.. Why not simply hand them over to the ECB and this whole thing would have been defused. Even if the texts were deleted immediately after being read, there is still nothing to stop the Sth Africans from revealing their content. Their silence on this matter is somewhat baffling. How "matey" can KP and the recipients be if they won't come forward to defend him.. if indeed he is innocent. Of course it suits their ends to have KP out of the team for whatever reason, so their silence is understandable but it hardly smacks of being the sort of mates I'd want. No smoke without fire as they say.

  • shalal on August 16, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    The series isnt lost as yet so nobody needs to be dropped!Irrespective of how cucial this test is, the side picked should always be the best XI that the country can field and on cricketing grounds alone.Thats what the paying public expect. Yes KP is a big mouth, churlish,brash, whatever-he is still the one supreme matchwinner in the side.Yes harmony is important but this isnt a sewing circle, its a professional international unit which should be able to iron individual differences if it is in the interest of the team. And KP at 4 is hugely in the interest of the team! Any team!!Any form of the game!

  • John on August 16, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    @ mosbourne1 on (August 16 2012, 09:02 AM GMT) What exactly are the issues as you see them ? As far as I can see from what I've read , the dropping from tests was purely to do with the content of the texts he sent/allegedly sent and the fact that KP (despite given time to explain/justify/deny the texts) chose not to make any effort to meet with those at the top to resolve the issue. If I was a WI fan , I'd back Sammy and Gibson every time over the snake

  • Bob on August 16, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    The more this drags on.. the more convinced I am that Pietersen is a disgrace to the England shirt and should never be allowed to put one on again.

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