I always needed KP - Collingwood
Paul Collingwood, England's new assistant coach for the tour of West Indies and the World Twenty20, has said that he always needed Kevin Pietersen in his team and that any side would try anything to retain a player of his ability.
Collingwood, who was handed his new role last week, played 300 times for England across all three formats - many of them alongside Pietersen - and was the captain of both the ODI and T20 sides. He led England to their one piece of global silverware, the 2010 World T20 in West Indies, where Pietersen was named Player of the Tournament.
Collingwood's international career ended when he was dropped following the 2011 World Cup - having earlier retired from Test cricket after the 2010-11 Ashes - which means he has not been involved in the side during the most recent of Pietersen's controversies; the 2012 text messages involving the South Africans and now his sacking.
However, Collingwood was a central figure in the side during the previous Pietersen-inspired crisis for English cricket - when he ousted Peter Moores as coach in late 2008 and was stripped of the captaincy - but never felt Pietersen had become unmanageable.
"You will always try to find a way of keeping KP in the side," he told the Scotsman after a spell coaching Scotland as they qualified for 2015 World Cup. "But the last three years it just seems that the relationships have become so unmanageable between both sides that it hasn't been able to work any more. You just can't function.
"I don't know if this has been happening, but if you orientate too much around one player, and not the whole team, then it becomes an issue. From the outside you can see that there have been occasions over the last few years where he has obviously upset the apple cart.
"But I always felt that I was needing KP in the side, and he'd never, at that point when I left the England team, he'd never become unmanageable as what it looks like he has now."
The end of Pietersen's career comes despite Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach, calling him a "million-pound asset" and reports that Stuart Broad, the Twenty20 captain, wanted him in the side.
On the field, Pietersen and Collingwood had a strong relationship when they batted together: they averaged 60.04 as a pair with nine century stands including their 310 against Australia, in Adelaide, in 2006-07.
"I've played with KP for pretty much six years, five and a half years, and he won a lot for England," Collingwood said. "I probably wouldn't be sitting here as a World Cup winner if it wasn't for KP."
Collingwood is entering an England coaching set-up in a state of flux following the departure of Andy Flower and a new head coach is unlikely to be named until after the World T20. Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach, remains the favourite to take charge and Collingwood gave his former team-mate wholehearted backing as they begin their new partnership.
One of the reasons Flower gave for relinquishing his position was that he felt England needed one head coach across all formats - rather than the split roles introduced last year - which is something Collingwood supports.
"Ashley is obviously early on in his international coaching career, but I think he'd be very good if he gets the three formats and I think that's quite important now that the next coach does take the three formats over and really puts his stamp on the England team culture, the ethics and all that kind of stuff
"I think Ashley's done a good job with the players that he's had in the one-day and the T20 form of the game. A lot of the time he does lose some of his best players because you've got to balance out the fatigue factor for Test cricket. So I think he's definitely the next man in line for the job."