Lack of trust behind ECB decision to axe Kevin Pietersen
Last Updated: 10/02/14 6:21am
Kevin Pietersen: No trust in Alastair Cook, according to ECB
The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that Kevin Pietersen was axed because the board could not trust him to give his full support to captain Alastair Cook.
The ECB released a statement criticising the "unwarranted and unpleasant" reaction to Pietersen's ousting last week with Cook, former Test team director Andy Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Prior coming in for particular scorn.
The statement insisted Cook needed the support and trust of all his team-mates as England look to rebuild following their drubbing in Australia.
It was also confirmed that the ECB has reached an agreement with Pietersen over his release from his central contract, which effectively ends his international career.
"The England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other."
The statement read: "It has been a matter of great frustration that until now the England and Wales Cricket Board has been unable to respond to the unwarranted and unpleasant criticism of England players and the ECB itself, which has provided an unwelcome backdrop to the recent negotiations to release Kevin Pietersen from his central contract.
"Those negotiations have been successfully concluded and whilst both parties remain bound by confidentiality provisions the ECB would like to make the following comments.
"The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.
"However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other.
"It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen."
The ECB hinted that Pietersen's past misdemeanours contributed to the decision, and that the fierce criticism from cricket fans and media over the last few days has been "uninformed and unwarranted".
The batsman was sacked as England captain in 2009 following a series of bust-ups with the then head coach Peter Moores.
Three years later he was infamously "reintegrated" into the squad after being found guilty of sending derogatory texts about captain Andrew Strauss to touring South Africa players.
The ECB claimed that the likes of Cook, Flower and Prior played a vital role in Pietersen's recall in 2012, and the trio should not be singled out for blame following the latest furore.
Pietersen is still widely regarded as England's best player - he was the leading run-scorer in the recent, ill-fated Ashes series - but the ECB has made it clear they feel he is damaging for team morale behind the scenes.
The statement continued: "Following the announcement of the decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB's decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England's players.
"Clearly what happens in the dressing room or team meetings should remain in that environment and not be distributed to people not connected with the team.
"This is a core principle of any sports team, and any such action would constitute a breach of trust and team ethics.
"Whilst respecting that principle, it is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.
"These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image, and it is ironic that they were the people who led the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012."