Andrew Strauss ends silence over last summer's stand-off with 'destabilising' Kevin Pietersen

 

Former England captain Andrew Strauss has given a compelling account of last summer's stand-off with Kevin Pietersen, lifting the lid on a deeply uncomfortable period that ruined his final days as an international cricketer.

Strauss retired last August after a draining series against South Africa that was overshadowed by Pietersen's increasingly adversarial relationship with his own team and employers.

The nadir came with reports that Pietersen had sent derogatory messages about Strauss to friends in the Proteas dressing room, said to contain tactical advice on how to dismiss the left-hander.

Pietersen was ultimately dropped from the final Test of the series having given an unforgettably spiky press conference in the aftermath of a fine hundred at Headingley, during which he cast doubt on his England future and suggested he felt an outsider in the camp.

Strauss, speaking openly about the issue for the first time in extracts from his autobiography, pulled no punches when detailing his frustration and disappointment in his long-time team-mate.

Strauss' candour, and critical views of Pietersen, are even more interesting given he is mulling over the opportunity to replace Hugh Morris as England's managing director of cricket.

Should he be given the job, he would effectively be Pietersen's backroom boss.

Casting his mind back to period in a Daily Mail serialisation, Strauss wrote: "The England cricket team are in crisis again. Coach Andy Flower and I have found ourselves in the middle of a destabilising and potentially damaging PR game between Kevin Pietersen, the England cricket team and the ECB. I feel incredibly tired, as though I have simply run out of energy - I have nothing more to give. I am also wallowing in a rising tide of sadness. This is not the way I wanted my England career to end.

"I was dumbfounded. I wasn't all that bothered about him sending texts to a few South African players he knew quite well. I did, however, have issues with him criticising me to the opposition. That felt like talking out of school, not to mention giving the opposition a way to drive a wedge between Pietersen and myself and the team.

"From that moment, clear battle lines were drawn between Pietersen and the ECB, with both sides involved in a PR/legal battle to gain public support and cover themselves in the event of litigation.

"As I watched this unfold, prior to my final Test, I became increasingly tired and exasperated by the legal speak. To me, it was a clear case: someone had overstepped the team boundaries.

"The fact that he and his representatives were engaging in a PR damage-limitation exercise worried me greatly. It gave the impression he was more concerned with coming out of the saga in the best possible light than with doing the right thing by his team-mates.

"There were many involved with English cricket, including myself, who felt particularly let down. Stuff that should have stayed in the dressing room had been played out in front of the media. The nagging frustration I still have is that all of that time, effort and commitment from our players over a three-year period to make our environment special and different were undermined in one episode.

"For me, he had crossed the line. He seemed to be at best destabilising and at worst undermining our carefully cultivated team environment."

Strauss, who revealed Pietersen visited his house to explain himself and apologise, does not now think Pietersen offered specific advice to South Africa but given the depth of his feelings about the rest of the incident, that seems a minor point.

"If he really had given information about how to get me out, well, that amounted to treachery and I would never forgive him," wrote Strauss.

"I am confident, in retrospect, that he did not give the South Africans information on how to get me out."

Pietersen is due to make his 100th Test appearance in this winter's Ashes Down Under, having complied with an ECB request for a period of 'reintegration' following Strauss' retirement.

PA

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