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Back to where they belonged? © Getty Images (file photo)

A day before his final Test for England — against India at The OvalAlastair Cook told BBC Test Match Special how keen he was to end the supposed rift between Kevin Pietersen and himself.

The rumours surfaced after England were wiped clean in the 2013-14 Ashes in Australia. Pietersen was dropped with Cook at the helm, and the latter found himself being targeted for a decision taken by Andrew Strauss, then director of the ECB.

“I haven’t spoken to him since that day but I think time is a great healer,” said Cook. “We spent a lot of time together and created some amazing memories. The thing is, we never fell out. Since then, the internet has fallen out for us. I was involved in the decision at first but the England captain doesn’t have the final say on hiring and firing. “I agreed with it, but I said, ‘Why don’t we give him some time off, we can go away and maybe KP can come back later on?’.

“Paul Downton [former ECB Director] wanted clarity, a clean break, because people would always be asking when is he [Pietersen] coming back. The fallout was pretty nasty and I don’t think the ECB handled it well or appreciated how social media worked very well then. It was the toughest time of my career, and there’s no doubt it affected my batting,” said Cook.

“I would refute anyone saying that I was the one that chucked him down the stairs but I was involved in the decision and I believed it was right at that time. Looking back, I can safely say all the decisions I made were done for the best of the England cricket team at that time. On that one, there were a lot of other people, way above my head, also involved in it. I felt like I was being left alone as the captain.”