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Kevin Pietersen’s exclusion from England’s squad evokes mixed reactions from former players

Former England skipper Alec Stewart said that Kevin Pietersen is being unfairly targeted after the Ashes loss © Getty images
Former England skipper Alec Stewart said that Kevin Pietersen is being unfairly targeted after the Ashes loss © Getty images

London: Feb 5, 2014

Often a polarising figure while on England duty, the end of Kevin Pietersen‘s international career split opinion among his fellow former England captains. Tuesday’s announcement by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was praised by Bob Willis as an “act of authority” on the part of its new managing director, Paul Downton.

But Michael Vaughan, star batsman Pietersen’s first Test captain, lamented the failure to “manage a maverick”. Former fast bowler Willis, citing Pietersen’s run-ins with England coaches Peter Moores and Andy Flower, whose time with the national side both ended before the batsman’s, albeit just by a few days in Flower’s case following the fall out from the 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, ‘came off his long run’ on Sky Sports.

“Full marks to Paul Downton – he’s put his stamp of authority on the job,” Willis said. ”Let’s be honest — Pietersen has disrupted every single dressing-room he’s been in,” added former fast bowler Willis, a team-mate of Downton’s in England teams of the early 1980s. No man is bigger than the game, and England have decided Kevin Pietersen got too big for his boots.”

Meanwhile Michael Vaughan, acknowledging he’d been fortunate to deal with Pietersen before the advent of the lucrative, Indian Premier League (IPL), nevertheless insisted he’d been mismanaged of late. “England lost 5-0 and need a huge scapegoat,” he told BBC Radio. “You have to be able to manage mavericks. You can’t have clones around.”

Nasser Hussain, Vaughan’s immediate predecessor as England captain had mixed feelings at a decision that left current skipper Alastair Cook without one of his most talented players.

“History tells you with Kevin he hasn’t really got a foot to stand on — whether it be back in Natal or Hampshire or Nottinghamshire, or Peter Moores or Andrew Strauss or Alastair Cook or Andy Flower, wherever he has been he has been a problem. “Some people believe in cutting out the virus and moving on; others just say ‘man-manage your best players’.”

Geoffrey Boycott, the most controversial England cricketer of his generation, added: “He (Pietersen) was an individual … I was one (as well). You can be an individual within the team but not an individual full stop — take it or leave it. [sic]”

But Alec Stewart, cricket director at Pietersen’s current county, Surrey, said he’d been treated harshly. “When we were winning, we didn’t hear anything. When we lose, everyone is pointing fingers at KP — and I find that unfair and unjust.”

Tuesday’s announcement means England will be without Pietersen for their one-day international series in the Caribbean later this month, to the disappointment of big-hitting West Indies batsman Chris Gayle. A friend of Pietersen, and someone who has had plenty of run-ins of his own with cricket administrators, Gayle tweeted: “No @KP24 for the Caribbean tour later this month against W.I? That’s really sad for English/International cricket!Don’t let the fans suffer. Was really looking for the hype of having @KP24 in the caribbean, would be big tickets sales for us. #Sad – Learn to MANAGE Big Names!! [sic]”

Catch all the latest updates on Kevin Pietersen’s exclusion from the England squad here

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