England news April 19, 2014

No room for 'disengaged' Pietersen - Downton


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KP 'has had his time' - Downton

Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, said he had "never seen anyone so disengaged from what was going on" as Kevin Pietersen during the Sydney Test against Australia, which ended up being his final international match.

Downton chose the announcement of Peter Moores as the new head coach to make his first public comment on the sacking of Pietersen, as he tried to draw a line under it while announcing a new era for English cricket. He presided over the dumping of Pietersen just days after officially taking office as Hugh Morris' replacement and revealed it was his observations during the Sydney Test that had raised alarm bells, pinpointing Pietersen's attitude during the match that sealed the 5-0 whitewash.

Pietersen has been winning the PR battle hands down since his split from England. On the day of Moores' return as coach he tweeted "Everyone deserves a second chance", to which Moores, with a smile, responded "good tweet". Pietersen himself has recently said that he continued to hold out hope of resuming his Test career - talking, again, of his target of 10,000 Test runs - but Downton emphatically said "I don't see any intention of going back." Pietersen's second chance, it has been decided, expired some time ago.

A further purge of details is likely to emerge in October when the legal restrictions placed on both parties expire, but Downton insisted there was not a "specific" issue or a "smoking gun" which had tipped the balance and instead hinted towards an accumulation of factors over a lengthy period of time.

"Go back to Australia and watch what happened. I watch quite a lot of cricket. What you saw was a senior England player who had become disconnected from the team," Downton said. "I watched every ball of that Sydney Test and I've never seen anyone so disengaged from what was going on. What you need from a senior player is backing, support, everyone working together and we'd just got to a stage where that was no longer the case."

"If you are looking for a smoking gun there are no specific issues. This is ten years of Kevin scoring very well for England but getting to a point where the balance shifted. During those ten years we had a strong side, strong leadership in terms of established captains and coaches, and that side could accommodate Kevin. That balance has shifted, we have to invest in new players and a new side won't accommodate Kevin. It's as simple as that. It's about the balance of what is best for English cricket.

"The sooner we understand that Kevin has had his time, the better. We are moving on without him. We sat down, talked through it over a number of hours and he was the one, in the end, who wanted to terminate his contract and we came to an agreement to do that. He is free to play wherever he wants around the world, but the sooner that we can focus on young players coming through the more everyone will enjoy it."

The process for Pietersen's departure began almost the moment Downton landed in Australia after the fourth Test, where he began canvasing opinion from within and around the team. Before the Melbourne Test was when the England players called a team meeting, without the knowledge of Andy Flower, to discuss openly what had gone wrong and it is where Pietersen is understood to have been the most vocal voice in the room.

"I arrived in Sydney on December 31, and it was clear from meeting Andy Flower that there were two major issues," Downton said. "He was uncertain about his future and whether he wanted to stay and what we were going to do about Kevin. The issue at the stage was that you had a senior England player who had got disconnected from the team.

"We had to build not for the next three months, but the next two, three, five years and for the side to grow - remember we hadn't replaced Strauss in 18 months, Swann had retired, Trott sadly had gone home and is still recovering now - we had to invest in new players and we had to build a new team with some core values. It was decided that wouldn't happen with Kevin in the side. We decided not to select him. I don't see any intention of going back."

The topic of Pietersen was first raised at Saturday's press conference by a question to Moores about whether his job would be easier this time without the batsman's presence. "Impossible to say," was his diplomatic answer. "I've not worked with this team yet. Every team is different in some ways." He reiterated that there were no hard feelings towards Pietersen over the way his previous spell as coach was terminated.

"I never fell out with Kevin, Kevin fell out with me," he said. "I don't place any blame. I moved on quickly. A strength of mine is I look forward, not back."

English cricket is now trying to look forward, but you sense the name of Pietersen will not be far away for a while to come.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • James on April 23, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    Paul, if you had watched the previous test in Melbourne you would have seen a very engaged KP score 120 runs, getting out late in both innings trying to go for quick runs with the tail. You would also have seen him surrounded by team mates who would have struggled to fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Just admit that he doesn't fit your pompous mould and stop making things up. I know what I saw: a guy playing for pride when his team mates seemed to have lost theirs.

  • Sharky on April 22, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    This won't be the first time that a country's selectors made a wrong selection mistake. Teams actually grew out stronger from these situations. They think that because of the unfairness, they will even try harder in the future. We can all remember or name a few blokes that had to sit out & miss games, because of an idiotic selection decision. Most of these players were still in good form and talented enough to represent their country on merit. Symonds & a few Aussie blokes. Chris Gayle vs West Indies. A lot of Pakistani players had to take the dive. Luckily for Afridi he could jump back. Klusener was also victim to wrong selection decisions. Jacques Rudolph and a lot of South Africans had to miss games even thou they knew they had the form & talent to represent their country on merit. This only spurred the players (victims & non-victims) to do even better to survive. "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." England will lose now to do better later.

  • Sean on April 22, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Everyone loves to talk about England, huh? The decision has been made and no matter how much that annoys the indian fans, shane warne & piers morgan...thats just to bad.

  • RICHARD on April 22, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Good article the only thing i can add to this was seeing Pietersen at the Adelaide test was the same as Sydney he was ASLEEP most of the time in the fielding department for which i SUNG TO HIM , wake up KP wake up wake up , but even my subtle melody did nothing to WAKE KP from a COMA !!!!!!! Seriously KP needed to be told to ship up or ship out sooner in my opinion. In KP'S eyes he is still TEAM KP NOT TEAM ENGLAND so SAD he could not be more of a TEAM player.

  • John on April 21, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    @Steve48 - Re India - yes th KP inns was superb but Cook scored a ton and in the next game he scored 190.Also I still maintain that bringing Monty in was at least as big a factor in the turn around. He took 11 for in that test which in my book is at least as good. Re disengagement - there were comms on here saying that he did look disengaged etc on the field - not joining in with celebrations etc. Not saying you're wrong but words can be empty.Just reading between the lines - maybe KP doesn't behave the way he speaks and maybe it's only when stuff like this happens that he becomes more into playing for England? For me Downton has said what he thinks and it's up to KP to counter.Anyone can say what KP has said and then behave differently.I'm not saying this is the case with KP but a person could be an absolute mare away from the public eye and then say all the right things in public but does that erase the bad stuff?

    please publish this time - nothing of offence to anyone

  • Russ on April 21, 2014, 15:28 GMT

    I'm really glad they got rid of KP. He was a great player for England in his day but is now nowhere near as good. Of course current/ex-players are not going to tell us the gory details or their true opinions about him, because they'd risk getting dropped or sued. He has caused all sorts of problems for England throughout his career and whilst once upon a time his plusses out-weighed his minuses, this is no longer the case - he is no longer good enough to be worth the bother. Yes England are now a very poor side but they would be whether he was playing or not.

  • Dean on April 21, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    So Swann who clearly knows KP very well having played with him for 6 yrs with Eng, Tremlett who would know KP pretty well from Eng/Surrey & Hants, Carberry who should know KP reasonably well from Hants & a few months with him over the winter & Morgan who has played with KP on & off for the past 5 years. All say there was no problem with KP since his reintegration. However Downton comes in watches 1 test match & decides drastic action is needed. This just not seem right to me.

  • Dummy4 on April 21, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    Well I watched every ball of the England tour of Oz not just one test in Sydney & I did not see a disengaged Pietersen in any of them. Lets see now how many runs has Downton ever scored anywhere? I did see an endless series of humiliating defeats. The measure of a manager is get the best out of players particularly the best players even if they are sometimes outspoken. Moores will find that his job now is far different from running a coaching academy. We are about to see another period of a miserably weak England team being unable to compete against better teams around the world. Downton will go back to his Abbey & soon be forgotten while KP will be long remembered. So finally if KP was disengaged & yet got most runs the rest must have been AWOL. How absurd

  • Mohan on April 21, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    So your best batsman looks disengaged and it is his fault after you have put him through the grinder for two years of nonsense? Isn't it management's responsibility to talk to him and see how they can use his talents. He is not the captain anymore. Last time he talked to people, they said he is organizing a mutiny. damn if you do damned if you don't. If you want to know why England always underachieves in every team sport, this is the reason right here.

  • Steve on April 21, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    @jg2704, thanks on feedback to my comment. I have no problem with KP being sacked on the grounds of fundamental differences in philosophy with his captain /management, especially in trying to build a new side. I did however take exception to the blame in Downtown's statement, and use of words that indicate a lack of interest /commitment on KP's part. Doing so only alienates the public further, more so when nobody else watching sensed this 'disengagement' in the Sydney test. Perhaps he wasn't supporting or advising Cook enough? Is that what he meant? As to this October gag, has Downtown not just broken it? Pretty damning statement...

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