In Depth

Pietersen England axe: even Cook wanted batsman out

'Unanimous' decision to sack KP designed to restore England team ethic, but fans are furious

KEVIN PIETERSEN'S international career is over after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) informed the 33-year-old that his services are no longer required. 

"The time is right to rebuild not only the team but also the team ethic," said Paul Downton, three days into his new role as managing director of the ECB, and in the wake of England's catastrophic tour of Australia.

According to Downton the decision to, in effect, sack Pietersen was taken "unanimously" by the England management team which includes himself, limited-overs coach Ashley Giles and national selector James Whitaker. "Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England," said Downton. "However, everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long-term planning after the Australia tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future."

According to the Daily Mirror, England captain Alastair Cook also had a hand in the decision to dump Pietersen a month before the start of the World Twenty20 championship in Bangladesh. The paper claims the  pair "had a row in Sydney last month, a spat which may have proved the last straw".

Ever since he broke into the Test team in 2005, the South African-born batsman has cut a controversial figure, able to wind up opponents and teammates with almost effortless ease. He was appointed England captain 2008 but lasted just five months in the job before resigning, allegedly because his relationship with coach Peter Moores suffered an "irretrievable breakdown".

Moores was sacked, and in 2012 Andrew Strauss stepped down as captain after he and Pietersen were at the centre of the textgate scandal. This time, however, England have had enough and decided the time is right to bring down the curtain on a career that was as captivating as it was controversial.

In 104 Tests Pietersen scored 8,181 runs at an average of 47. Only six players have played more Tests for England and only one – Cook - has exceeded Pietersen's tally of 23 centuries. There were also 4,440 runs in 136 one-day internationals and 1,176 runs in 37 Twenty20s, and it's the abbreviated version of the game that Pietersen is likely to turn to now his Test career is over.

Next week is the draft auction for the Indian Premier League and Pietersen is expected to command a £1m price now that he is appearances will no longer be restricted by international duty.

But the Mirror claims that Pietersen could "contest his axing in the courts by invoking employment law" and noted that his reaction to the sacking was carefully worded.  "I believe I still have a great deal to give as a cricketer," ran the statement issued by Pietersen. "I will continue to play but deeply regret that it won't be for England."

Opinion is initially divided on the decision to part company  with Pietersen. Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who captained him on several occasions, labelled it "madness" and said: "The ECB need to explain exactly what KP did and why they can't manage him any longer." There was plenty of outrage on Twitter, where Pietersen's friend Piers Morgan branded Cook a "repulsive little weasel" over the decision.

But BBC cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew said that in the end Pietersen has only himself to blame for his demise. Yes, said Agnew, he was England's leading run scorer in the recent 5-0 Ashes whitewash but too often England's most gifted batsman gave away his wicket with a stupid shot. "Pietersen has always batted however he feels on a particular day," reflected Agnew. "But if he could not get his head down and play for the team when they were up against it, could he ever do so?"

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