Not one player wanted Kevin Pietersen in the side, says ECB managing director Paul Downton
England and Wales Cricket Board's new managing director Paul Downton has finally shed light into why 'luxury player' Kevin Pietersen was axed from the England side three months ago, following the 5-0 whitewash in Ashes Down Under.
"One of the huge issues after Australia was 'what are we going to do about Kevin?' I watched every ball of the Sydney Test live, and I've never seen anyone as disinterested or distracted as Kevin; it looked very strange," Downton said.
"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. There was a significant amount of frustration in terms of his attitude, 'Are you really fighting it out?’ The accusations were that Kevin had too many agendas and wasn't 100 percent focused on playing for England," the ECB chief added.
Downton, who has represented England in 30 Tests and 28 ODIs, replaced Hugh Morris to become the new ECB managing director with effect from February 1, 2014.
Speaking further about the 'frustration' Pietersen had caused, the 57-year-old said: "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. 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."
Pietersen, who is currently captaining Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, was previously thrown out of the team in 2012 after he was accused of sending 'provocative texts’ to Proteas players during a Test series between the two teams in England.
"It lasted 18 months, and now we've decided on a split. We went to Kevin and said we weren't going to pick him for the T20 WC (in Bangladesh this year) and it was clear from then that he wanted to reach a settlement on his central contract, as we couldn't offer him any guarantees on the summer -- we would have been happy to let the contract run out," Downton admitted.
"He wanted freedom to play where he wanted to play and won a very big (IPL) contract because of that," he added.
However, former English cricketer Geoffrey Boycott is of the belief that Pietersen only requires a 'better manager' to continue his international career.
"Would Kevin Pietersen still be playing Test cricket if Michael Vaughan, Mike Brearley or Raymond Illingworth was captaining the side? My answer is categorically, 10 out of 10, yes," Boycott insisted.