ECB: Lack of trust prompted KP axe
Kevin Pietersen was axed from the England team due to the need for everyone to be able "to trust each other" and in support of captain Alastair Cook, the England and Wales Cricket Board has revealed.
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Pietersen confirmed his England career was over on Tuesday after it was announced he would not be in the squads for the tour of the Caribbean and the ICC World Twenty20.
The ECB had been at great pains to make only the most careful public comment about the reasons for Pietersen's dismissal, prompting calls for transparency including from former England captains Ian Botham and Michael Vaughan.
And a statement issued jointly by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association on Sunday evening read: "The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. 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."
While seeking to bring clarity, the ECB statement raises further questions about the whole episode, with further speculation inevitable regarding the reasons for the organisation's lack of trust in Pietersen.
Specific details were conspicuous by their absence in the statement, which acknowledged "both parties remain bound by confidentiality provisions".
Pietersen, though, certainly has a history of clashing with authority figures in the England set-up.
He successfully lobbied in January 2009 for the removal of then coach Peter Moores, which also cost him his own position as captain.
And Pietersen's international career nearly came to an end in the summer of 2012 after it was discovered he had sent derogatory text messages about then captain Andrew Strauss to members of the touring South African team.
He went through a reintegration period with the team and it had appeared his international career was back on track until this week's events saw the curtain come down on England's leading run-scorer across all formats.
Former England bowler Dominic Cork told Sky Sports News: "I believe this has been an ongoing story from a long way back - from Peter Moores, the Andrew Strauss texts, Andy Flower and the issues he had with him as coach, now Alastair Cook who, remember, backed him 100 per cent with reintegration.
"What this shows you now is I think Alastair Cook lost Kevin Pietersen's respect and now believes it's the time to move on without Kevin Pietersen. If you do not get behind your captain, the team is nowhere."
That echoed Strauss' earlier Sunday Times column, in which he wrote: "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.
"The media have been searching for a 'smoking gun'. Everyone is looking for disciplinary problems, bust-ups and character clashes, but they are looking for the wrong thing. The smoking gun is the total absence of trust."
Sunday evening's statement also appears to address recent tweets from Pietersen's celebrity confidant Piers Morgan thought to relate to a team meeting while England were trailing 4-0 in their eventual Ashes whitewash in Australia this winter.
Pietersen reportedly was vociferously critical as players discussed their collective relationship with then team director Andy Flower, and broadcaster Morgan claimed he was subsequently "stabbed in the back" by England vice-captain Matt Prior.
The wicketkeeper - who famously made the initial telephone call to Pietersen which paved the way for his reintegration in 2012 - responded angrily on Twitter and was supported by all-rounder Tim Bresnan.
The ECB statement read: "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.
"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.
"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's representatives at Mission Sports Management declined to respond to the statement when contacted by Press Association Sport.
Looking to the future, lucrative offers doubtless await the 33-year-old in Thursday's Indian Premier League auction.
There is also the prospect of signing on with other clubs or franchises - such as Surrey, thought to be keen to retain the batsman's services after his contract there lapsed at the same time his ECB deal ended.