His language may have been coarse, but Andrew Strauss was voicing a common view of Kevin Pietersen

 

On reflection, Andrew Strauss might have chosen more decorous language, whether speaking privately or publicly. But his comments about his former colleague, Kevin Pietersen, which unintentionally spoilt the party at Lord’s on Saturday, reveal much about the deep strength of feeling in the English game.

In describing Pietersen as an “absolute c**t” in an off-air conversation with his fellow Sky commentator Nick Knight, Strauss was not issuing an exclusive opinion. He thought that he and Knight were having a private chinwag during a break in the match between MCC and the Rest of the World but it was picked up by a live microphone, as these things often are. Initially it was heard only by viewers of Fox Sports in Australia but soon after naturally went viral on the internet.

The disdain inherent in the assessment, although followed by an embarrassed apology, brooks no debate and offers no room for manoeuvre. Strauss was merely echoing what so many, and probably most people once or still connected with the England team, feel about Pietersen.

It is clear from the tone that Strauss’s feelings have hardened. In the summer of 2012 he seemed to have come to terms with Pietersen’s behaviour, which to those on the outside seemed unforgivable.

Pietersen betrayed Strauss, who was then captain, by texting members of the South Africa team, England’s opponents in a Test series. It was widely reported that he had referred to his captain as a doos, a particularly insulting Afrikaans word.

In his subsequent autobiography, Strauss told how Pietersen visited him at home to apologise after admitting sending what he called “provocative text messages”. Strauss wrote: “I accepted his apology and hold no grudges against him. The far greater issue, even at the time of the Test match, was one of trust.”

During conversations at the time, Strauss was relaxed about Pietersen’s return to the team and insisted that he was largely a good influence in the dressing room. There was certainly no use of the dreaded C-word or anything close to it.

But then came the events of last winter in Australia, when Pietersen yet again became isolated from his colleagues, and was subsequently sacked.

Strauss, retired more than a year by then, was not directly involved but he will have heard precisely what went on in the dressing room. He will have heard that Alastair Cook, his successor as captain, had run out of patience and sympathy with Pietersen.

Indeed, Cook was profoundly affronted by what Pietersen had done to Strauss in 2012 and, although he was willing to have him in the England team subsequently, it is beginning to emerge that he never truly forgave him for his behaviour then.

After Saturday’s unfortunate events, which rather overshadowed what was reported to be a lovely occasion at Lord’s to mark the ground’s bicentenary, Strauss had no wriggle room.

Pietersen’s usual, firmest, if not only ally, Piers Morgan, the TV chat show host, swiftly went on to Twitter to traduce his pal’s critics.

He tweeted: “If KP called Strauss a ‘c..t’ on air, cricket media destroy him. But they’re all ‘feeling sorry’ for ‘poor Straussy’. #Hypocrites”

Morgan may have a point, though Pietersen has had a rather more balanced press than both men concede.

If, however, there is an element of truth in what Morgan said about the differing attitudes to Strauss and Pietersen, he might for once have stopped to think and ask himself why this might be so.

Pietersen was given a handsome ovation when he went out to bat at Lord’s on Saturday, perhaps in memory of some of the great innings he played for England. He repaid it with a fairly crass piece of batting.

Although he has been sacked, Pietersen continues to insist that he would like to play for England again, presumably rather than knock about the world’s Twenty20 leagues. It is not going to happen and, whatever else, Strauss’s comments explain why.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?