Sir Ian Botham demands ECB explain decision to axe Kevin Pietersen
'If there is to be a cull, it has to be done properly...'
Last Updated: 07/02/14 11:43am
Botham is the third former England captain in 24 hours demand a full explanation from England's cricket chiefs, following Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan.
Pietersen's international career was ended on Tuesday when the ECB told him that he would not be required for the forthcoming tour of the Caribbean or the World Twenty20.
Pietersen's England days are therefore over at the age of 33.
Graham Gooch, England's current batting coach, scored a further 14 Test centuries from that age and Sky expert Botham believes the ECB owes the cricket public an explanation as to why they have dumped a batsman who scored more runs for England across all formats than any other player.
He said: "I think everyone needs to remember what a terrific player he has been and the entertainment he has given. I think it's about time the ECB put out an official statement so we all know what is going on. There have been a lot of Chinese whispers, a lot of ex-players speculating. I don't know what has happened. I don't think anybody does.
"He is one of the best players the country has ever had. His career has been terminated. Well why not tell us why? And don't give us the one-liner 'we are moving on, we're doing this, we're doing that.' He is 33, not 43.
"I do believe the ECB needs to come out and lay their cards out on the table, explain their decision. I think the cricketing public deserves that. And I think the other thing they need to look at is the amount of back-room people they have.
"Everything is getting so cluttered up nowadays. There are so many people trying to justify their existence. Everyone is talking about a cull of the players. I think they need to look at the back room as well.
"Things do move on. Things don't stay rosy and wonderful forever. England's performance this winter was abysmal and there was bound to be repercussions. I don't think anyone expected it to be quite as severe.
"The coach has gone, Graeme Swann has gone, Kevin Pietersen appears to have gone. Who says there is not more to go? If England are going to do this and start with Kevin Pietersen, they need to do it properly."
Australia legend Shane Warne, who sat alongside Botham in the Sky commentary box this winter during England's Ashes whitewash, says the ECB has made a huge mistake.
Warne, a friend of Pietersen, tweeted: "Sad news KP has played his last game for England, to me it's a digrace & a joke! The ECB is a shambles."
You can watch a Sky Sports cricket special 'KP - The Great Innings' - on Thursday night at 8.30pm and also a 30 minute live show at noon on Sunday: 'KP - The Verdict' - both on Sky Sports 2HD. The shows will also be available via On Demand.