Vivian Richards (above) feels that Kevin Pietersen has been unfairly targeted by the ECB © Getty Images
London: Mar 6, 2014
Kevin Pietersen has been made a “scapegoat” for England’s Ashes humiliation in Australia, according to West Indies great Vivian Richards.
England controversially axed their all-time leading run-scorer across all formats following a 5-0 series loss Down Under where he was their highest-scoring contributor with the bat.
“You were looking for some heads to roll and, for some reason, Kevin Pietersen’s head was in the way,” Richards told BBC Radio Five.
“He’ll have been disappointed with the series in Australia, but overall I think he’s been a good servant to English cricket,” added Richards, one of the greatest batsman in the history of cricket.
“At times, and just judging from my side of the fence, it looks like you’re looking for some little scapegoat, and he was made one.”
Richards’ comments echoed those of retired all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, a former England team-mate of Pietersen’s, who was at a loss to explain the 33-year-old South Africa-born batsman’s banishment from international cricket.
“If his attitude was that bad, why did he play five Tests [against Australia]?” Flintoff said in the Daily Mail.
“Who made the decision to drop him? Do they genuinely believe we are better off without him, or are they just fearful for their own jobs and too afraid to say no?”
English cricket chiefs have so far refused to pinpoint in public a specific reason regarding form, fitness or indeed a disciplinary infraction that led them to take such drastic action against Pietersen, one of the most talented batsman of his generation.
Instead they have said Pietersen’s failure to fully support current Test skipper Alastair Cook and the need to have everyone “pulling in the same directions” were behind his exit.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) officials have repeatedly insisted an agreement they’d reached with Pietersen prevents them from announcing more details.
England are currently in the Caribbean for One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 series against the West Indies, their first international matches since they axed Pietersen.
Wednesday saw them win the one-day series 2-1 after a 25-run victory secured on the back of Joe Root‘s maiden one-day international hundred and 99 from wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler.
“He’s one of my favourites,” said Richards of Buttler.
“He’s one of the finest finishers in world cricket. He looks a class act,” added Richards, who starred for Somerset, the county where Buttler made his name, in the 1970s and 1980s.
The West Indies and England are now set to play three Twenty20 Internationals in Barbados on March 9, 11 and 13.
These matches will serve as a warm-up for the ICC World T20 2014, where the West Indies are the defending champions, in Bangladesh that starts on March 16.