England news February 4, 2014

Pietersen's England career is over


'I will continue to play, regretfully not for England' - Kevin Pietersen

England will enter a new era without one of their greatest-ever batsmen after the ECB decided not to consider Kevin Pietersen for selection for the forthcoming tour of the Caribbean and subsequent World Twenty20.

A career that spanned 104 Tests and more than 150 limited-overs appearances over nine years, during which time Pietersen became England's leading run-scorer in international cricket yet became one of the most divisive players in their history, now appears to be over.

The final separation comes little more than a year after Pietersen's successful "reintegration" to the team on the tour of India.

The ECB said in a statement that the decision had been unanimous among the England management, adding that "now was the time to start the rebuilding process" after the disappointment of being whitewashed in Australia.

Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, has overseen a strong-minded and controversial decision in his first week in the job.

He led discussions with Alastair Cook, the Test and one-day captain, Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach who has just returned from Australia, and James Whitaker, the national selector. Downton also met with Pietersen, who had previously indicated his desire to play on, tweeting that he was "determined to help regain the Ashes in 2015" in the wake of England's 5-0 defeat. There was even a teleconference with the ECB's executive board. Democracy has been extensive, if as yet ill explained.

With the announcement of England's World Twenty20 squad expected on Thursday, the ECB took the unprecedented step of holding "policy meetings" solely to discuss the eligibility of one player: Pietersen. He spent the day of his sacking giving a class on how to play spin bowling to his Surrey team-mates at The Oval.

"Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England as the fact that he is the country's leading run scorer in international cricket demonstrates," Downton said.

"However everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long term planning after the Australia tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy.

"England cricket owes a debt of gratitude to Kevin who has proved to be one of the most talented and exciting players to ever represent the country and his 13,797 runs are a testimony to his immense skill. This decision brings some clarity now for the future of the England teams and we all wish Kevin the very best in the rest of his career."

Pietersen and his representatives seemed to have accepted the inevitable. Adam Wheatley, director of Missions Sports Management, Pietersen's agent, tweeted: "Had a couple of meetings today. What's everyone else been up to?"

"We have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy"
Paul Downton, England managing director

In a statement released by the ECB, Pietersen: "Playing cricket for my country has been an honour. Every time I pulled on the England shirt was a moment of huge pride for me and that is something that will live with me forever.

"Although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I'm also hugely proud of what we, as a team, have achieved over the past nine years. I feel extremely fortunate to have played at a time of great success for England cricket alongside some of the best cricketers the country has ever produced.

"I want to thank everyone for their fantastic support and I wish the team the very best of success going forward. I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer. I will continue to play but deeply regret that it won't be for England."

The news of England forcibly retiring one of their most experienced players comes less than a week after Andy Flower stepped down as team director and follows the retirement of Graeme Swann during the disastrous Ashes tour.

Few would seriously contend that there are valid cricketing reasons to omit Pietersen for the World Twenty20 and, whatever rumours and counter-rumours swirl around England's most controversial son, no specific examples of misbehaviour in Australia have been made public.

England have not revealed any disciplinary issues on the tour of Australia, which could have led to an official fine or reprimand. Neither have they confirmed reports in the Sydney Morning Herald that Pietersen and Cook were involved in a ''heated'' discussion at the SCG members' bar on the eve of the fifth Test.

People will wonder how Flower and his extensive management team, amounting to more than 20 backroom staff, could still fail to manage England's most maverick player - and whether the supposedly collapsing "team ethic and philosophy" is being blamed solely on one man.

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, was one of the first ex-stars to ask for clarification. "I think the ECB have to explain to everyone exactly what KP has done so we can all have clarity and reasoning," he tweeted.

There have been suggestions that Cook's opinion would be highly influential in the decision - it had even been said in some quarters that he would "have the final word" - yet if that was true it would raise disturbing inconsistencies. Cook might be England's Test captain but he does not even play Twenty20 cricket - yet his opinion could have swung the decision on whether Pietersen was available for the World Twenty 20.

England's rejection of Pietersen will now make him an even more coveted asset in IPL. The IPL auction takes place on February 12 and Pietersen, even at 33, would be bound to attract a sizeable bid if he was available for the entire tournament and driven by a determination to prove England wrong. He is a free agent after being released by Delhi Daredevils, who did not retain any of their squad.

He remains centrally contracted to the ECB and, although there has been no indication of whether he will be treated differently from any other England player - those hoping to play in the IPL must be back in the UK by May 13, ahead of the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka - the nature of the joint statement suggests he can stay for the duration. It will be intriguing to see whether he also plays one-day cricket for Surrey.

The 5-0 whitewash in Australia seems to have reopened rifts in the England dressing room. Pietersen is thought to have regarded Flower's management as overly intense and serious and was thought to be hopeful that Giles, the limited-overs coach, would encourage a more relaxed environment. But Pietersen was rested from the limited-overs leg of the Australia tour as England lost the ODIs 4-1 and went down 3-0 in the T20 series.

Friction between Pietersen and the ECB existed long before the Ashes series. At the start of 2009, he lost the captaincy after questioning the qualities of the coach, Peter Moores, who was also sacked; in 2012, he retired from ODI and T20 cricket and then was dropped after sending texts to members of the touring South Africa team.

Reports after the conclusion of the Test series against Australia had suggested that Flower wanted Pietersen excluded from the England set-up if he was to continue as team director. Flower denied giving the ECB an ultimatum but pointedly did not extend his support to Pietersen.

Giles, the favourite to replace Flower as team director, had previously called Pietersen a "million-pound asset", when asked about his future in Australia. If the decision to dispense with his services was unanimous, that represents quite a financial crash.

Cook was central to Pietersen's return to the Test side in India in 2012, where England claimed an historic series victory. However, it seems that support has evaporated for a player routinely described as one of the most exciting and talented ever to represent England.

It is understood that Flower was not part of the meeting about Pietersen's future but he has remained as a selector for an as-yet unstated interim period and has indicated that he will sit on the selection panel to choose the one-day squads for the West Indies and World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Pietersen is England's leading run scorer in all formats, with 13,797 runs in 277 matches. He is fourth on England's Test match runs list and second in terms of centuries, behind only Cook. Ahead of Pietersen playing his 100th Test in the first match of the Ashes in Australia, Mark Nicholas wrote: "That he does so on Thursday says much about his fabulous ability and something more about a ruthlessness in him that is not always apparent. He is close to being regarded as a truly great cricketer, England's first since Ian Botham."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kundan on February 8, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    This one is for the X-files! Does anyone know how to get hold of Mulder?

  • John on February 7, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    @5wombats on (February 6, 2014, 20:43 GMT) As I have put on a different thread - it's a shame Swann retired (for more reasons than 1) as it would be interesting to see what ECB would have said as a reason for KP being sacked if the older Swann was still part of the team I'm not commenting on Strauss/KP. Strauss may have walked regardless as I still don't know what KP was supposed to have said. TBH , I don't like this decision at all - esp without knowing the facts (presuming there's something else behind it) .To end a player's career is a final thing. I think England will lose some paying fans over this and I still believe that if there was a good explanation then some of those fans may be ok about it. Regardless , I think an explanation would at least gain our respect even if we disagree with their reasoning.

  • Martin on February 6, 2014, 20:43 GMT

    @JG2704 on (February 6, 2014, 18:52 GMT) - yeah - gladiators of the game aren't they, india... Fact is - Pietersen IS (was) a destructive influence. He is. KP was behind the demise of England's best captain in a generation - Strauss. Strauss was a really good player for England. For example, in india he played 10 Test innings and scored 3 hundreds - his record in india was better than most indian batsmen. indian commenters probably don't know that. Add the fact that Strauss also captained a team that won in Australia, something that no indian captain ever achieved - and you have a good captain. Yet when there was a choice between KP and Strauss in 2012 it was Strauss that decided to go. KP was behind that. For that alone he should be condemned. Meanwhile, in this Ashes series something was desperately, desperately wrong on that tour. I'd bet a pound to a penny that KP had something to do with that as well. NO single player is bigger than the game. I wonder if Pietersen thought he was.

  • John on February 6, 2014, 18:52 GMT

    @5wombats on (February 5, 2014, 19:36 GMT) Surely you can understand that when your side is doing so well overseas against the mighty force that is New Zealand you feel any other team is mediocre

  • abdul mannan on February 6, 2014, 17:30 GMT

    It should have been KPs call and not ECBs. Geniuses are always going to be eccentric in one way or another and ordinary mortals have to learn to put up with them. To be fair to ECB, it tried to do just that but failed in the end. KP has been a victim of whims and fancies of both ECB and some of its captains. KP deserved better.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    really excellent player to watch I

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    sadest end to the bad boy of england,kp jorney has come to the end england best player ever played the game and man who built the england cricket for last decade,can emagine how will england will play near futhure with out kp,hats off for your briliance,

  • Allan on February 6, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Thank you ECB. Now we'll be able to retain Ashes in 2015. Time will reveal a fuller story of events, will make interesting reading.

  • NAVED on February 6, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    What a pity to lose KP at the height of his career. I doubt if there was any England player in the living memory who had such an impact to the English team in the last few decades. England owes a lot to him for what they acheived in the last 10 years. Sadly ECB have always encouraged drudgery to brilliance and dynamism. This has been the single factor in their average performance till at least 2005. And then came KP and changed all that. It was not his individual performances but the momentum that he provided to the team as a whole which lifted the team to achieve so much. This decision will not only leave a gap in their batting but will discourage all the team members to speak their heart with all honesty and will lead to conservative approach overall. This does not auger well and sadly I do not see England reach the heights in near or even diistant future. Sad day for cricket.

  • Warren on February 6, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    So I guess if Bradman had a bad attitude English cricket would drop him. This is a result of humiliation and a ridiculous search for a fall guy. The red herring as it were. I think this is the darkest hour in the history of English cricket and I reckon they should've cleaned out from the top down ... how many captains win 1 match in 13 and survive? They've pointed the finger to secure their jobs. How honourable