Kevin Pietersen was left isolated on Sunday night as a player who breached the trust of the England dressing room. He was also virtually accused of betraying three men who had once supported him and seemed to be left without a single ally in the team hierarchy.
The fact that a sweeping statement of denunciation was issued jointly by the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Professional Cricketers’ Association served only to emphasise that Pietersen alone was to blame for the decision to sack him this week. The PCA, of which he is a member, felt obliged to jump to the defence of other members who had been derided by Pietersen’s friends outside the dressing room.
It sweetened a bitter pill at the start. “The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade,” the statement said. “He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.
“However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.”
The statement came after negotiations were complete to remove Pietersen from the central contract he signed last October.
There was an overriding sense of relief from the England management that they were at last able to reply to some of the opprobrium that has been heaped on them since Pietersen was told he was no longer wanted. Players and management were extremely angry that Pietersen had apparently leaked details of private team meetings to supporters which later appeared on Twitter.
“It has been a matter of great frustration that until now the England and Wales Cricket Board has been unable to respond to the unwarranted and unpleasant criticism of England players and the ECB itself, which has provided an unwelcome backdrop to the recent negotiations to release Kevin Pietersen from his central contract,” the statement said. “Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players.
“Clearly what happens in the dressing room or team meetings should remain in that environment and not be distributed to people not connected with the team. This is a core principle of any sports team, and any such action would constitute a breach of trust and team ethics.”
The damning comments were released in late evening after being delayed by more than three hours. It suggested that lawyers from both sides were involved but although the minutiae of what led to Pietersen’s removal was absent it was clear that he had transgressed once too often.
Andy Flower, the former coach, Alastair Cook and above all the wicketkeeper and vice-captain Matt Prior were all criticised in one form or other. But the ECB and PCA made clear where all their sympathies lay.
Referring to the sanctity of the dressing room, the statement concluded: “Whilst respecting that principle, it is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.
“These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image, and it is ironic that they were the people who led the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012.”
Pietersen found no solace in the past either. Writing in the Sunday Times, the former captain Andrew Strauss, to whom Pietersen demonstrated disloyalty in 2012 and was then temporarily dropped, said: “Without trust, the team environment is stillborn. It is for this reason that Kevin Pietersen’s international career had to be brought to an end.” No amount of runs could compensate for that.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies