ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Strauss defends Pietersen pull-out
Sidharth Monga in Chittagong
March 10, 2011
Andrew Strauss has defended Kevin Pietersen's decision to pull out of the World Cup to get his hernia operation done in relative earnest. The medical staff had initially diagnosed that it was "a pain-management issue", and the injury wouldn't get significantly worse if he continued to play in the World Cup. The pain seems to have got unbearable during the game last Sunday against South Africa, after which England had a maximum of five matches left over 27 days.
"Kevin has been managing this injury for quite a long time," Strauss said. "Yes, the medical staff said that it was a pain-management issue, and the injury wasn't going to get worse, but, you know, Kevin desperately wanted to play in this World Cup, isn't it? It's a great stage for him, it's the sort of thing that floats his boat. If the pain was so bad that he didn't feel he was able to do that, then it's a very simple conclusion to draw, which is that you have got to make a change. That's the situation we found ourselves in. Obviously it's hard to lose a player of that quality."
Coach Andy Flower, though, differed in his assessment of the state of affairs. On Monday, he told BBC: "The medical advice was that he could get through the tournament. The hernia was not going to get significantly worse, he was not going to tear anything, and so we hoped that he would get through the tournament okay, and that he would be able to take painkillers when necessary and bite the bullet."
Strauss was more compassionate. "I don't think it was a case of 'he could have been stronger' or anything like that," he said. "The pain just got too much; it was affecting him too much on the field. He didn't feel he was close enough to a 100% to play international cricket."
Interestingly, Pietersen bowled eight overs the day he decided he could take the pain no more. "It might have put him under more strain," Strauss said. "He has been struggling in the field for a while, and I think with these sorts of injuries, it's both physical and mental. If you are constantly conscious of it, and the pain is always there, then it's very hard to concentrate on what your main job is." That does suggest Pietersen might have found himself between a rock and a hard place. If he had stayed on and not done well, criticism for staying on despite the injury couldn't have been too far away either.
While Strauss has to decide who his new opening partner will be, he said the team wasn't going to miss Pietersen's part-timers badly. "Kevin hasn't bowled a lot for us in one-dayers, if I am honest," Strauss said. "It was great to have him on a big turning wicket the other day. We have other guys who can fill that role, who are not genuine offspin bowlers. Look, we are going to miss KP no doubt. He was playing well at the top of the order, and he is useful both in the field and with the ball. So those are quite large boots to be filled."
England take on Bangladesh in a Group B match on Friday, in Chittagong.