Pietersen lost England trust - Strauss
Debate has continued to swirl around the sudden termination of Kevin Pietersen's international career, with former England captain Andrew Strauss citing a "total absence of trust" as the reason behind the ECB's decision.
The move to leave Pietersen out of England's future plans has sharply divided opinion, amid a sense of public disgruntlement about the lack of transparency from the ECB. Little information has been forthcoming, beyond the ECB's stated desire to rebuild "team ethic and philosophy".
It was suggested that the ECB would release a statement further clarifying the situation on Sunday, though confidentiality clauses pertaining to the end Pietersen's central contract and underlying legal issues would doubtless have limited its scope.
Strauss, writing in the Sunday Times, said that a lack of trust was the deciding factor in the ECB ending the career of England's leading international run-scorer. Describing the nine-year arrangement between Pietersen and England as being like an "illicit affair", Strauss said that the disastrous tour of Australia, which ended in an Ashes whitewash, had reopened old wounds.
Strauss was at the centre of one of the most controversial Pietersen episodes, when the batsman admitted to sending "provocative" texts to South Africa's players during the 2012 series; his reintegration only came about after Strauss' retirement at the end of that summer. Strauss at the time referred to "underlying issues on trust and respect" when explaining why Pietersen had been dropped and he returned to those themes in his newspaper column.
"Without trust, the team environment is stillborn," Strauss wrote. "It is for this reason that Kevin Pietersen's international career had to be brought to an end. The media have been searching for a 'smoking gun'. Everyone is looking for disciplinary problems, bust-ups and character clashes, but they are looking for the wrong thing. The smoking gun is the total absence of trust.
"What happened in Australia from November onwards, when the heat of the furnace was fixed on the embattled side, was that old grievances came back to the surface. Past history weighed too heavily. Trust still did not exist. His relationship with English cricket has been like an illicit affair. Full of thrills and excitement, but destined to end in tears."
There was support for Pietersen to be found among former colleagues, however. Steve Harmison, who was in the team alongside Pietersen as England memorably reclaimed the Ashes in 2005, called the ECB "arrogant" over its handling of the situation, while the Sunday Mirror went so far as to claim that Stuart Broad, the T20 captain, wanted Pietersen in the squad for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
Broad was among those consulted by Paul Downton, England's managing director, in his review of the Australia tour and it is believed that he felt the T20 team would be stronger for Pietersen's involvement. However, after meeting with Alastair Cook, the Test and ODI captain, and Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach, Downton decided to draw a line under Pietersen's England career.