Kevin Pietersen: Door shuts firmly on Pietersen's England return

No way back for sacked star after ECB says book launch ‘burnt more bridges’

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The Independent Online

As the dust settled on Friday’s sacking of Alastair Cook as England one-day captain, voices were inevitably raised calling for Kevin Pietersen to be allowed back into the side – only for the selectors to rapidly slam the door on that prospect.

Pietersen, currently in Australia playing in the Big Bash, had welcomed the appointment of Eoin Morgan as Cook’s successor on Friday by tweeting: “Great news that @Eoin16 is new England 1-day captain. Top player, leader and bloke. Hope I get to play for him.”

Others then took up the running with the suggestion that Pietersen, who was  jettisoned from the England set-up in January after last winter’s dismal tour of  Australia, be brought back into the one-day side  with the World Cup looming in February.

Former Australia batsman Matthew Hayden told BBC Five Live’s Sportsweek programme yesterday: “I think it’s ludicrous that Kevin Pietersen isn’t in the England side, that’s just crazy.

“One thing that I really love about him in the Big Bash League is his innovation.

“World Cups are  won on innovative batting and we’ve seen that progression in thinking in batsmen,  particularly because of the T20 format of the game. They’ve had to be really  innovative, they’ve had to create different shots, and bowlers have never caught up with it.”

Yet any possible return for Pietersen won little support from within a bruised England and Wales Cricket Board still trying to recover after a difficult year. The ECB managing director, Paul Downton, was adamant there was no way back for the divisive 34-year-old.

“We parted company with Kevin in January because throughout the ECB management, from the dressing room up to the board, it was felt that it was the right decision to go in a slightly different direction,” he said.

Downton added that the controversy caused by the publication of Pietersen’s book in October made any return even more difficult. “If anything more bridges have been burnt by Kevin’s book. There is no interest from our point of view in going backwards,” he said.

Head selector James Whitaker was even blunter. “The ECB management made this decision in January and it is the same decision now,” Whitaker said. “There is no way that Kevin Pietersen will ever get back into an England team.”

 

Morgan, who is in Australia with Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash, revealed he had “20 missed calls” from Whitaker when he was trying to offer the job of captain.

“I thought I’d better give him a ring and he said ‘we’d like to offer you the captaincy’,” Morgan added.

“I was delighted to be asked. Being offered the captaincy is awesome.

“It’s a huge honour to lead an extremely talented group of guys during a really exciting period.”

Morgan made a cameo appearance for the Thunder yesterday, contributing an unbeaten 12 in their resounding 56-run victory over Brisbane Heat. Morgan faced five balls and smashed a four and a six to help set Brisbane a victory target of 209, but they were skittled out for 152 within 18 overs.

Andrew Flintoff was making his Big Bash debut for Brisbane but it was a performance to forget as the former England all-rounder conceded 25 runs in the two overs he bowled and was then dismissed for a duck.

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