Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Kevin Pietersen's England career comes to bitter end

Despite top-scoring for England in the disastrous Ashes tour, Kevin Pietersen has been shown the exit

Kevin Pietersen's international career was brought to a sensational end last night.

In an exit almost as spectacular as some of his great innings, he was told he was no longer wanted by England after their ill-fated tour of Australia.

It was made clear, in a statement which did not remotely go to the heart of the issue, that the man who has scored more runs for England than any other cricketer will not play again either in Test matches, one-day internationals or the Twenty20 format.

The severance had to take place now because England's squad for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh is being announced tomorrow.

Pietersen was told yesterday that he would not feature in that, in the tour to the West Indies which precedes it or, indeed, in international cricket again. Tellingly, the decision to sack him – and that is what this is – was unanimous among the management and the selectors.

It demonstrates that Pietersen, who again became isolated from the rest of the dressing room this winter, had run out of allies.

He met Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, and was told that now was the time to start the rebuilding of the team after the disastrous Ashes – despite Pietersen ending as top scorer.

Downton, who is in his first week in the job, said: "Clearly, this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England.

"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 and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy."

The last phrase of that statement stands out. England in general and the captain, Alastair Cook, in particular were simply not willing to put up with Pietersen's disruptive influence any longer.

Cook had saved Pietersen's career once when he insisted he should stay after the damaging conflict in the summer of 2012. Dropped from the team when his attitude became too much to manage, Pietersen was restored.

But without Cook's willingness to work with him, it would not have happened and it is clear that the captain too was at a loss about what to do next.

He might have expected the worst after the rampant speculation of the last month. But he may have thought that his career would be saved by the commodity that counted more than any character defects, perceived or real – runs.

"Playing cricket for my country has been an honour," Pietersen said.

"Every time I pulled on the England shirt was a moment of huge pride for me and that is something that will live with me for ever. Although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I'm also hugely proud of what we have achieved over the past nine years.

"I feel extremely fortunate to have played at a time of great success for England cricket alongside some of the best cricketers the country has ever produced.

"I want to thank everyone for their fantastic support and I wish the team the very best of success going forward. I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer. I will continue to play but regret that it won't be for England."

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