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London: Apr 1, 2014
England captain Alastair Cook said on Tuesday he was “frustrated” at his inability to reveal the reasons behind Kevin Pietersen‘s international exile, although he promised all would become clear “soon”.
Despite being England’s leading run scorer across all formats, South Africa-born Pietersen was axed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in February following the team’s 5-0 Ashes 2013-14 thrashing in Australia.
But exactly why he was sent into international exile, with seemingly no hope of return, remains a mystery and Cook was unable to shed any fresh light on Tuesday.
“I can’t actually answer that question, totally, at this precise moment in time which is incredibly frustrating for me,” Cook told Sky Sports News at county side Essex’s media day.
“Everyone will say I’m sitting on the fence, but there are a number of reasons which will become clearer soon. You have to respect the decision and the position I am in at this precise moment in time,” the left-handed opening batsman added.
Initially the ECB would only cite the need for a new “team ethic and philosophy” as the reason behind the axing of the 33-year-old Pietersen, England’s leading run-scorer in the Ashes.
But, following fierce criticism from the likes of Michael Vaughan, Pietersen’s first England captain, over its inability to handle ‘maverick’ players, the board issued another February statement saying the team had to be rebuilt and that to do that “we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook…with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other”.
The ECB added: “It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.”
But that statement still left unanswered the question of what precisely Pietersen had done in Australia to deserve such drastic treatment, with some in the England hierarchy saying confidentiality reasons prevented them from speaking out more fully.
England’s recent struggles, culminating with the humiliation of Monday’s 45-run defeat by minnows the Netherlands in the ICC World T20 2014 in Bangladesh, where a team without Pietersen and Cook, who does not play in T20 Internationals, were dismissed for just 88, have only led to fresh questions.
Cook accepted the ‘Pietersen issue’ would not go away until England addressed it full on, but insisted he couldn’t do so at this moment in time.
“Everyone is going to keep asking that question until we give the answers, but at the moment we just can’t,” said the 29-year-old.
However, Cook added: “If anyone thinks the decision was taken lightly and without a lot of consideration and a lot of thought — a lot of things went into the decision,” Cook said. “It was a tough decision.
Andy Flower stood down as England team director following the Ashes thrashing and limited overs coach Ashley Giles remains the favourite to succeed him as head coach, although his prospects weren’t improved by the Dutch debacle.
But having seen Giles guide England to the final of last year’s 50-over Champions Trophy final, Cook said it would be wrong to judge him on the national side’s most recent results.
“Gilo has had a tough winter — we’ve all had a tough winter,” said Cook. “He’s a very, very good coach. He’s a fantastic coach and a very good man as well.”
Other reported candidates for the post include former England coach Peter Moores, now with Lancashire, Nottinghamshire’s Mick Newell and Australian Trevor Bayliss, who has coached Sri Lanka.
“I think we are lucky that we can choose from a good number of candidates. Gilo will certainly be in for that. I don’t make the decision,” Cook said.
England face upcoming home series with Sri Lanka and India and Cook said they would mark the start of a gruelling bid to get back to the summit of world cricket.
“It took us three or four years to become the top-ranked Test side in the world under Flower and [then captain Andrew] Strauss after we were bowled out for 51 in Jamaica.
“It is going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get there.”
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