Kevin Pietersen disinterested during Ashes tour and had to go, says Paul Downton
Kevin Pietersen was distracted in Australia and few people wanted him in the England team, says ECB chief Paul Downton.
Last Updated: 23/05/14 7:20am
It is the first time Pietersen's controversial axing - following the team's 5-0 Ashes series loss down under - has been explained in so much detail.
The exit of the South Africa-born batsman, England's leading run scorer across all formats, was met with scorn by some fans, players and pundits.
At Lord's on April 19, when Peter Moores was unveiled as England coach after Andy Flower stood down following the Ashes debacle, Downton said there was "no going back" for the "disconnected" Pietersen and that it was time for everyone involved in English cricket to get behind captain Alastair Cook.
And a month on during England's limited-over clash with Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday, Downton told the BBC: "One of the huge issues after Australia was, 'what are we going to do about Kevin?'
"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.
"I talked to every person on the management team and quite a few senior players, and I couldn't find one supporter who wanted Kevin to stay in the side. We spent the next three weeks working out what to do in the best interests of English cricket."
Downton also felt Pietersen was becoming something of a luxury player for Alastair Cook's side towards the end and decided England were best suited moving on without the mercurial middle-order batsman.
Pietersen, who became England's highest ever run-scorer across all forms of cricket last summer, averaged less than 30 in the five Tests in Australia with just two half-centuries, although he was still the team's highest run-scorer in the series.
Downton added: "We made the decision on Kevin to move on as we wanted to invest in Cook and other young players, rebuild the side.
"Kevin was starting to play a bit like a luxury player. There was a 'this-is-the-way-I-play' type of attitude. He had not been fit an awful lot and he wasn't producing the results he once had.
"We felt we couldn't trust him to be a senior player to build a side around. We're backing Alastair Cook and others. Sooner people understand we have cut our ties with Kevin Pietersen and moved on and investing in younger players coming in, rebuild side, the better.
"The accusations were that Kevin had too many agendas and wasn't 100 per-cent focused on playing for England. I'm not saying everything that happened in Australia was down to Kevin.
"There is no smoking gun. This was in the best interests of English cricket. He had a good career for England over 10 years, not without incidents. We'd lost (Andrew) Strauss 18 months ago, (Graeme) Swann retired, (Jonathan Trott) Trotty is recovering but is a long way from getting back to playing cricket, so we absolutely had to rebuild that side - we'd just lost 5-0 with Kevin in the side.
"Are you going to back Cook and (Ian) Bell to be the backbone of that side, or are you going to back Kevin? There was a strong feeling in the dressing room that we weren't going to grow as a side until we addressed that."