Bob Willis: Kevin Pietersen should be kicked out of England cricket team for good
Sky Cricket expert Bob Willis believes Kevin Pietersen should be "kicked out" of the England team.
Last Updated: 09/01/14 9:16am
Pietersen is once again at the centre of a media storm, with reports suggesting he has fallen out with England coach Andy Flower.
Flower has reportedly issued an ultimatum to the ECB, insisting either Pietersen is dropped or he will resign. The England coach has however denied this is the case.
The ECB's new managing director Paul Downton starts his job on February 1 and former England captain Willis says sorting out Pietersen's future should be his first job.
"It's not what England needed at all, particularly for the new managing director Paul Downton. He'd have loved to have had a blank piece of paper. But again those two initials (KP) are at the agenda," Willis told Sky Sports News.
"This time it is crunch time for England and Kevin Pietersen.
"In my opinion he has to be 100 per cent in, or 100 per cent out. England either need him to be one of their inner sanctum, as a senior player, perhaps even vice-captain with a selectorial vote when the side are on tour. Or they say 'Andy Flower is our man' for the future. Pietersen has already seen off one coach in Peter Moores and one captain Andrew Strauss.
"This cannot go on and if Flower wants him out then that's what's got to happen for the good of England.
"They thought Pietersen was good enough to be captain five years ago. But we can't have Pietersen sulking down at third man or at long off while more junior members of the side decide with Alastair Cook what goes on in the middle.
"That's one route. The other is to say 'sorry Kevin, enough is enough.' Kevin has got previous and they have all taken a step back to reintegrate Pietersen. They've accommodated him at every turn.
"Pietersen is the best player in the team. He didn't quite show it on the tour but he is the only player who can change the course of a match. Bowlers do it, but very few batsmen can. But if a guy is not fitting in with the team ethic, then he's got to go.
Asked what he would do in Downton's position, Willis said: "Kick him out."
However, former England batsman Mark Butcher is sceptical of the reports of a rift, and insists Pietersen has always been a positive influence in the Surrey dressing room.
Butcher told Sky Sports News: I suppose the question is - and it seems to me there's blame being laid at Kevin Pietersen's door for England's performances Down Under - why did he continue to be picked in the side?
"If he's so disruptive, if he's all the things he's accused of being, then it's a very simple solution for the ECB, for Flower, for the England management, you just drop him.
"It doesn't seem to me that that's the case, so somewhere along the line either management's wrong or the newspaper story's wrong, or Kevin Pietersen.
"I know, for a fact, that when Kevin Pietersen comes to play at Surrey there are a lot of young players - very, very young players - in that dressing room and they absolutely love having Kevin Pietersen around.
"He's got time to talk to them, to encourage them, to talk to them about cricket, to help them with their techniques etc, so I hear nothing but good things about him from the young players in that environment, so I don't understand the story."