England have dispensed with Kevin Pietersen’s record-breaking batsmanship because of a “massive trust issue”.
Andrew Strauss was at pains on Tuesday, in an exhaustive round of interviews at Lord’s, to stress that the decision to offer no way back for Pietersen is one made with a heavy heart but “in the best interests of English cricket”.
Not once in more than three-and-a-half hours of questions for new England and Wales Cricket Board director Strauss and chief executive Tom Harrison did either waver from assurances that, with regret, Pietersen simply cannot yet be trusted.
While that did not preclude an offer to enlist him as a strategist to help improve England’s still flagging limited-overs fortunes – it would be “madness” not to use his expertise, Strauss believes – the 34-year-old will play no part in the Ashes this summer.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Pietersen has not taken England up on their suggested off-the-field role having learned in a face-to-face meeting with his former Test captain Strauss on Monday night, hours after hitting a brilliant maiden triple-century for Surrey, that he is still not wanted as a player.
Pietersen, who has scored more runs across the formats than anyone else in history for his adopted country, therefore remains in what seems sure to be permanent exile.
He was cast adrift for a second time after England’s 2013-14 Ashes whitewash defeat, when management described him as “disengaged”.
After Strauss’s appointment just four days ago, it seems he must pay a further price for their broken working relationship back in 2012 – when Pietersen admitted sending “provocative” texts about his then captain to opposition players from their native South Africa.
Three years on, Strauss said: “Kevin has got brilliant experience in one-day cricket ... I think it would be madness not to try to get that information out of his head.
“Ultimately that may be an opportunity for us to start rebuilding trust. But as it stands right at the moment – for a number of reasons over a long period of time – there is not trust between Kevin Pietersen and people. I don’t believe any team can function in any sort of capacity if there’s no trust.”