England in a mess says former captain

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The Independent Online

Former England captain Graham Gooch has described the current turmoil surrounding the national team as "an unholy mess".

Skipper Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores are both widely reported to have left their posts but there has been no official comment from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The pair's status has been under intense scrutiny over the past week amid continuing reports of a power struggle at the top of the English game.

Gooch told BBC Radio Five Live: "I thought one of them was going to go because they don't get on and they don't see eye to eye.

"What really worries me is what's going on in the dressing room. There are obviously some factions in the dressing room, some with Pietersen and some not, and that's not the sort of harmony you want before a big series in the West Indies and of course the Ashes.

"As soon as (the rift) went public one or other of the parties is backed into a corner and something has to happen.

"It's going to take a strong character as captain and a strong character as coach, or as an interim coach. England have got to concentrate on the cricket and not have these off-field distractions. It is an unholy mess at the moment."

Former England all-rounder Dominic Cork criticised the ECB for failing to deal with the issues surrounding Pietersen and Moores.

He told Sky Sports News that England were now "a laughing stock" and this would give Australia "a bit of confidence before the Ashes" next summer.

Cork said: "This gets transmitted all round the world. It's an important year, not just the Ashes, but the World Twenty20, a tour of the West Indies.

"This should have been sorted in-house. whether by (ECB chairman) Giles Clarke or (managing director) Hugh Morris and again we're allowing English cricket to become a laughing stock."

Pietersen, 28, was only appointed in August and has been in charge for just three Test matches.

He reportedly voiced concerns about working with Moores then and now it seems their relationship has broken down irretrievably.

Another ex-England captain, Alec Stewart, told Sky News: "Inside a few months that relationship proved not strong enough and now we're talking about who will be the new England captain.

"I'm a big fan of Kevin Pietersen. He's a tremendous player and will probably be a great of the game by the time his career finishes. I was all in favour of him being England captain. He had a lot to offer both as batsman and captain.

"Captain is a 24-7 job. It's not just about making decisions on the field - the responsibilities are off-field. It's vital that partnership with the coach and manager is very strong. They won't always agree.

"It's about working with the authorities - in this case the ECB, the coach - planning for game practice sessions, etc. It appears Pietersen had a different outlook to Peter Moores in how they wanted the team to move forward.

"I understand the ECB offered Peter Moores a two-year extension to his contract and the extension of that offer came before Christmas. They obviously felt Peter Moores was the right man to take England forward. Pietersen obviously felt he was not being backed and that's why he resigned."

Stewart feels Pietersen may look back with some regret at the developments which seemingly caused the end of his reign after just over five months.

"In football the manager runs everything," said the former Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman.

"If any Manchester United player questioned Sir Alex Ferguson they would be on the transfer list and out very quickly.

"In cricket, it's generally seen that the captain is the boss. He's making decisions on the field - he's accountable.

"The coach/manager in cricket is there to support the captain.

"I can understand Pietersen wanting things his way. In hindsight maybe he'll think he went about it the wrong way."

Erstwhile England coach David Lloyd believes the ECB were on a sticky wicket from the moment they chose their best player, Pietersen, as captain.

That, Lloyd contends, is a flawed policy in cricket - borne out by history.

Lloyd said: "You have a star player - and make no mistake this guy is world-class - but do you have your best player as captain?

"I don't think so. Brian Lara, Ian Botham, Geoff Boycott - don't put them anywhere near the captaincy; keep them as your star player."

Former England captain Nasser Hussain is exasperated by an unnecessary crisis which, he believes, is of the ECB's own making.

"What disappoints me is there was no real need for this," Hussain told Sky News.

"As per usual, just before the Ashes they go and shoot themselves in the foot."

Hussain, who has particular sympathy for Moores, is frustrated by the administrators.

"It is up to the ECB to make it crystal clear. They should be out there telling us who is captain and who is coach - who is in charge of the England team," he added.

Moores' apparent departure is a particular cause for regret, according to Hussain.

"I do feel a little bit for Moores - what has he done so wrong?" he asked.

"He has been a little bit let down. He has not spoken out about Kevin Pietersen or any of his team - but unfortunately, because of what has happened this last week, his position has become untenable."

There have been suggestions that the situation came to a head after Pietersen issued an ultimatum to the ECB that either Moores or he would have to go.

Hussain added that he felt Pietersen's captaincy was always destined to end in tears.

He told Sky Sports News: "He was going to be in your in face and question people and take people on.

"They must have known that eventually it was going to come to a clash between Pietersen and Moores. They should have been able to react to that.

"If they have given him the job to be this abrasive, this in your face, maybe they should have sat down and listened, [and asked] 'What are we going to do then?'

"And maybe Kevin Pietersen himself - not maybe but definitely - should have gone about this in a much more professional way.

"You can't just sit on safari in South Africa and issue ultimatums to the board about the England cricket captaincy. It is far too important for that. You get off your backside, come to England and sit down with your bosses and decide and discuss what is the best way to progress.

"What has happened in the past week has been very poor from a lot of people."