LONDON // Kevin Pietersen’s hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) managing director Paul Downton said there was “no way back” for the star batsman.
Pietersen, England’s leading run scorer across all formats, was sensationally axed from the national set-up following the team’s recent 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia.
Initially the ECB would only cite the need for a new “team ethic and philosophy” and “support” for the captain Alastair Cook, as the reason behind the move, with Cook saying it was a “brave call”.
But that still left unanswered the question of what precisely 33-year-old South Africa-born Pietersen had done in Australia to deserve such drastic treatment.
However, during a Lord’s news conference on Saturday where Peter Moores was unveiled as England coach after Andy Flower stood down following the Ashes debacle, Downton gave the most detailed explanation yet by anyone in the England hierarchy for Pietersen’s exile.
“I arrived in Sydney (the venue for the fifth and final Ashes Test) on 31st December, and it was clear that there were two issues: Andy Flower’s future and what we were going to do about Kevin,” Downton, flanked by Moores and Cook, explained.
"I watched every ball of that Sydney Test match and I've never seen anybody so disengaged from what was going on," former England wicketkeeper Downton said of a match the tourists lost by 281 runs, with Pietersen managing scores of just three and six.
“What you need from a senior player is backing, support and everybody working together. We just got to a stage where that was no longer the case.
“We came to the conclusion – that if England was going to rebuild after a 5-0 loss then we had to make a decision for the future and for the side to grow – and let’s remember that we hadn’t replaced (Andrew) Strauss, (Graeme) Swann had retired, (Jonathan) Trott had gone home and is still recovering now (from a stress-related illness) – that we had to invest in new players and build a new team with some core values.
“It was decided that wouldn’t happen with Kevin in the side so we decided not to select him,” Downton explained while insisting there was no “smoking gun” that had led to Pietersen’s exit.
“What you see here is the future and I don’t see any going back.”
Last week Pietersen, currently playing for the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, said he still had hope of becoming the first England player to score 10,000 Test runs.
“Yes, maybe I’ll still get to 10,000 (Test runs),” Pietersen, who scored 8,181 runs in 104 Tests after making his debut against Australia in 2005, told the Indian Express.
Pietersen is the fourth-highest Test run scorer in England’s history and tops the list among current players.
But that cut little ice with Downton.
“We had a strong side over 10 years with strong leadership and established captains and coaches, and that side could accommodate Kevin, but that balance has shifted now,” Downton said.
“A new side won’t accommodate Kevin. It’s about the balance of what is best for England.”
Moores, 51, was previously England coach from 2007 to 2009 before a falling out with Pietersen cost him the job and the batsman the England captaincy.
Now rejoining the England set-up from his position as Lancashire coach, Moores laughed when told Pietersen had tweeted Saturday: “Everyone deserves a 2nd chance!”.
However, Moores added: “The important point to make is I never fell out with Kevin, Kevin fell out with me. There’s a notable difference.”
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