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World Cup 2011

Strauss defends Pietersen pull-out

Sidharth Monga in Chittagong

March 10, 2011

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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."

Kevin Pietersen walks away from his team-mates, England v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Chennai, March 6, 2011
Kevin Pietersen bowled eight overs in England's victory over South Africa in Chennai © Getty Images

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.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 15 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 11, 2011, 12:56 GMT)

Let's see if England can thank KP again.

Posted by max on (March 11, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

I think it is better for England. Get Morgan back, better player for the situation, need a power finisher more than a power opener right now.

Posted by Nathan on (March 11, 2011, 3:14 GMT)

kp got mightily annoyed when Allan Border questioned his toughness after he returned home from the 2006/07 tour of Aus. I guess the truth hurts (even more than a manageable hernia ...), because since then he has done everything to prove AB correct.

Posted by Steve on (March 11, 2011, 2:13 GMT)

Harden up Kevin! If you are so 'desperate' to play for your country, you could play 5 games over 27 days - that's hardly onerous.

Posted by Hollis on (March 11, 2011, 1:16 GMT)

Windies thrashed Bangladesh recently but somehow I feel England is in for a big surprise from a hurt Bangladesh team that will regroup and show their true potential. Look out for the knock out punch England. I believe the rest of you guys will be joining KP and Broad at home soon ..

Posted by Andrew on (March 11, 2011, 0:28 GMT)

If it was ANY other player - his commitment wouldn't of been questioned. However, KP does sing from his own hymn sheet. It would be interesting to see whether England allows KP to play in the IPL. There is a tough home series against India looming & other commitments, given Flintoff effectively ended his career by playing in the IPL during a window of recovery from an injury, I wonder if the powers that be will act? Or do they really care about him long term???

Posted by Ben on (March 10, 2011, 21:14 GMT)

w46q, the thought is he won't be fit for the IPL...

Posted by w46q on (March 10, 2011, 20:20 GMT)

This was perfect time to have the surgery so that he can be fit by the time IPL starts. And I am not judging him, since most of the people in the world would have done the same thing if they had that chance of earning so much money.( the people in the World includes me, because this is the reason I am in US doing PhD)

Posted by Nikhil on (March 10, 2011, 19:44 GMT)

Why didn't he try sitting one game out, see if he improved before returning home?

Posted by Chris on (March 10, 2011, 18:56 GMT)

After reading this article i think you can stop saying he is a South African playing for England! He is definately English now...

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