England are desperate to move on from Kevin Pietersen

'There are different faces around, a change in director, it’s a new era'


There is a spring in England’s step. It is always this way at the start of a tour because it is accompanied by hope and sometimes faith. Never mind what has gone before, a new beginning is at hand.

This time it is different. This time it really is a new beginning, the era of English cricket immediately after the dismissal of Kevin Pietersen, its greatest star of recent times. To complement that, they are between coaches after the departure of Andy Flower and utterly bereft of form after losing 12 of 13 international matches on the recent tour of Australia across all formats.

Given those circumstances, it is the sort of spring in the step which could lead to a spectacular tumble. For the moment, Pietersen remains the ubiquitous figure.

This sojourn in the West Indies, the preparatory phase for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, is the first tour in 10 years for which he has not been available for reasons other than injury, rest and a brief retirement after an earlier disagreement about his treatment. But he was always around then, frequently the spectre at the feast, invariably missed.

There is an obvious dilemma confronting the players who are charged with launching England’s brave new world, which has a kind of start today with a match against the University of West Indies Vice-Chancellor’s XI. They want to pay due homage to his thrilling record but, equally, they want to talk about the future without him.

Nobody wants to move on more than England now. It is all everyone is talking about. Moving on, indeed, is the buzz phrase. They are paying lip service to Pietersen because they are inevitably being asked about him, but pretty soon it is possible to imagine that he will be airbrushed from history.

If the England and Wales Cricket Board could think of a way of expunging his record without handing back, say, the Ashes won in 2005 or the World Twenty20 in 2010 which he illuminated, it probably would. But in a way Pietersen is as present now as ever – and this is someone who had actually appeared in only 22 of England’s 57 one-day internationals since the last World Cup in 2011.

The intrigue surrounding the unceremonious sacking of a player who had been invited to sign an England central contract, supposed to last a year, only in October will not abate yet. The arrival in Antigua today of the new managing director of England cricket, Paul Downton, who has yet to utter a public word on that or any other issue, will ensure that.

It is disguising, though not for much longer if things do not change, the woeful recent record. This fresh England have arrived in the Caribbean carrying the baggage of the squad which contrived to lose cataclysmically in Australia. After England had gone down 5-0 in the Ashes series it was impossible to imagine matters would worsen. They did.

Downton has inherited a mess which is simply not of his making and was expected by no one. Make no mistake, England are at a low ebb, with no clear idea as yet of how it might change.

Jos Buttler, the wonderfully talented wicketkeeper-batsman on whom much of the possible success of this bright, brave, fresh era will depend, said yesterday: “Losing in Australia is as hard as it gets but it is important to know that at some point it will turn around. You have to have the belief and confidence. You keep getting knocked down but you keep getting back up and you go again.

“You can only use those experiences to learn from what you did and if you don’t, you don’t go anywhere. I think it’s important that we reflected on that tour and took things that we need to do and moved on. There are different faces around, a change in team director, it is a different era.”

Something may click in the next few weeks but, even if England manage to do well here against the present world T20 champions, it is impossible to be optimistic about their chances in the Bangladesh tournament. At least, they can use the next three weeks as an intense restorative course.

A difficulty with usual limited-overs tours is that there is precious little time to work on all those tricks which are necessary to the plying of the trade – the innovative strokes, changes in style for different bowlers, slower balls, faster balls, how an over might be pieced together.

In the next fortnight or so, England can draw breath a little while hoping that some spark will emerge from it all which will allow them to start winning again. Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach who is favourite to take over the whole shebang when the roles are merged once more, is having an extended audition.

He has an obvious early opportunity to impress Downton. Giles was almost certainly being groomed to take over from Flower next year, probably after the home Ashes series. Events have changed that and this tour has assumed an importance to him and to England beyond a ragbag of matches in paradise.

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities