Downton issues KP apology
The England and Wales Cricket Board and its managing director Paul Downton have apologised to Kevin Pietersen following the criticism from Downton of the batsman's attitude in the winter Ashes series.
Downton appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live's Test Match Special on May 22 to discuss a number of issues, but his comments about former England batsman Pietersen drew particular attention.
The ECB chief said the 33-year-old appeared "disinterested" and "distracted" in the fifth Test in Sydney, and added that he was unable to find anyone within the England set-up who wanted Pietersen to remain in the team.
Pietersen subsequently hit back, insisting the claims were "wholly untrue", and on Friday night the ECB issued a statement expressing regret over some of the comments made by Downton which it said were "in breach of the settlement agreement" made with the batsman when his central contract was terminated.
Both sides were bound by confidentiality provisions, and the ECB and Downton conceded the radio interview had overstepped the mark.
The ECB stated: "On May 22 during an interview on BBC Test Match Special, Paul Downton of the ECB made a series of comments about Kevin Pietersen with which Kevin takes issue including the comments he made regarding his perception of Kevin's attitude during the Sydney Test on last winter's Ashes tour. Some of those comments were made in breach of a settlement agreement between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen which was concluded at the time Kevin's central contract was terminated earlier this year.
"Paul Downton and the ECB both apologise to Kevin Pietersen for those comments made that were in breach of the settlement agreement and have confirmed that they will abide by its terms moving forward."
Downton, who oversaw the decision to part ways with Pietersen in February as England looked to rebuild following their miserable tour to Australia that included a 5-0 Test series defeat, had told TMS: "I was quite frustrated watching him as a fan, and there was a feeling he wasn't engaged as he should be as a senior player.
"I then watched every ball of the Sydney Test live, and I've never seen anyone as disinterested or distracted as Kevin; it looked very strange."
During the wide-ranging interview, Downton also suggested Pietersen was starting to perform like a "luxury player".
Pietersen responded the following day with a statement defending his attitude and performances Down Under.
The South Africa-born batsman said: "The suggestion that I was uninterested during the winter Ashes series against Australia is wholly untrue."
Pietersen added: "With regard to the criticisms aimed at my "the-way-I-play type attitude", I feel it's only reasonable to remind Mr Downton that this method has brought me over 13,500 runs for England, in addition to being part of four Ashes-winning teams and a World T20-winning side, all of which achievements I am hugely proud of."
Pietersen, who became England's highest ever run-scorer across all forms of cricket last summer, also took issue with Downton's comments that it was the player who pushed to have his contract terminated.
There was no immediate reaction from Pietersen following the apology, but journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan, a close friend of the batsman, was quick to hit out at Downton and the ECB on Twitter.
Morgan, who has regularly defended Pietersen in the past, described the ECB as "clowns" and called for Downton to be dismissed.