KP triple ton in vain as Strauss says England door is shut for now
Director of England cricket Andrew Strauss has wasted little time getting used to his new role, by showing instant ruthlessness and controversy confirming that Kevin Pietersen will not play for England, who are 7/1 with Coral not to win a Test match this summer, in the near future.
Strauss said: “We cant have situation where ECB and KP don’t trust each other. Everyone knows there is no trust. At the moment we are quite estranged. This is not about Kevin Pietersen, this as about the future of English cricket.”
But, crucially, he added: “He is not barred from playing for England. he is not part of our plans for the summer and I can’t make any guarantees to him or any other player, for that matter, at the end of the summer.”
After Pietersen smashed 326 not out for county side Surrey against Leicestershire, it was as if the star batsman had hit the jackpot to allow him to return from international exile and be picked again for his adopted nation.
However, it is not to be yet as former teammate and fellow South African-born Strauss confirms that calling up the 34-year-old is “not in short-term interests of the team”.
This comes just months after ECB chairman Colin Graves stated: “The first thing [Pietersen’s] got to do if he wants to get back is play county cricket for somebody.” That is something which Pietersen has done, and even ripped up a lucrative IPL contract to do so.
“It’s down to the selectors, down to the coaches, of what they see, what is best for English cricket. They will make the decisions and I will support them when it comes to that decision.
“Forget personalities,” Graves continued. “Selectors pick the best players in form, taking wickets and scoring runs. That is their job.”
The crucial phrase from Graves, however, was: “If he does that and then comes out and scores a lot of runs they can’t ignore him I would have thought but that is up to him.”
But ignore Pietersen they have done, and Strauss’ decision has gone totally against that of the ECB chairman. Certainly the batsman though he’d done enough, and spoke after his highest ever hit.
“All I’ve been asked to do by the chairman elect is get a county and to score runs and I’ve done both and I do believe I’m good enough to play for England,” he said. “All I can do is score runs. That’s it.
“It’s an interesting time and what more can I do? I was told to find a county. I was told to score runs. I think I’m scoring runs. I’ve always said since my knee was sorted that, if my knee was good, I’m going to play well.
“I played well in the Big Bash. I gave up a contract in India. I’m not playing for any money here. I’m dedicated to getting back my England place. I want my England place and I think I deserve my England place.”
Strauss and Pietersen were known to be friends whilst England teammates, winning the Ashes together; however, following the text-gate incident in 2012 in a series with South Africa the duo fell out.
Current England director of cricket Strauss will have another tough decision to make soon too, as he will need to replace departed head coach Peter Moores.
For the time being, though, assistant Paul Farbrace will take over the reins for the two-match Test with New Zealand and his side are 13/8 to win the series.
Strauss also confirmed that Alastair Cook will remain as Test captain for the Ashes (England are 3/1 for victory), while Yorkshire youngster Joe Root will be his vice.