Kevin Pietersen’s formal exit from England is understood to be imminent with the mercurial batsman’s central contract close to a conclusion.
Both parties are currently working on the legal details of his exit after he was ommitted from England’s limited-overs squad to tour the West Indies and the World Twenty20 – which will be named today.
Pietersen will then be open to offers at next week’s Indian Premier League auction for a full campaign, something he has apparently long-craved but several times been denied by circumstance.
For England, the brave new world managing director Paul Downton, captain Alastair Cook and others have engineered will dawn with the baton handed to coach Ashley Giles and Twenty20 leader Stuart Broad on tour in the West Indies and then a ‘World Cup’ in Bangladesh.
By then, the clamour for answers from the ECB about precisely what Pietersen did so wrong in Australia – apart from being unable to arrest England’s slide to an embarrassing 5-0 Ashes whitewash – may have died down.
First, though, both player and his adopted country must contend with the rampant speculation – a situation which has already convinced Pietersen’s wife, among others, of the need to have their voice heard.
Jessica Taylor sprung to her husband’s defence after suggestions that Pietersen and his former captain Cook ‘squared up’ in Sydney while England were descending to their fifth and final trouncing.She rebuked Sky Sports pundit Dominic Cork over his understanding of how badly Pietersen and Cook’s working relationship suffered in Australia this winter.
Mrs Pietersen, and former England captain and Yorkshire batsman Michael Vaughan, both took issue yesterday with Cork’s depiction of a “dust-up” between captain and senior batsman as tempers were lost.
“Dominic Cork – there was no ‘squaring up’ to Alastair Cook or ‘off-field antics’ in Australia – you are lying, plain & simple,” wrote Pietersen’s wife.
“Regurgitating rumour and spinning it as fact is not what I’d call responsible journalism. The public deserve so much better – the truth.”
Vaughan responded in similar tone, acknowledging there were bound to be raised emotions during England’s miserable Ashes campaign but questioning whether the situation escalated as has been reported.
“With the way England were playing I am sure players had lots of strong debate in the dressing room,” said Vaughan.
“But squaring up??? #Nonsense.”
The bombshell that at 33 Pietersen has played his last match for England has reverberated around the world, and the mercurial South Africa-born batsman’s former Ashes adversary Shane Warne duly made his thoughts clear.
“I also just heard the sad news re KP that he has played his last game for England, to me it’s a disgrace & a joke! The ECB is in a shambles,” Warne tweeted.
Pietersen posted a picture of his final Test on Instagram, and added the words: “So sad that this will now be the last time I leave a field in an England shirt... Incredibly overwhelmed by the support overnight! Thank you so much.
“I love England and I honestly hope they have every success in the future.”
Sir Ian Botham joined an apparent chorus of disapproval for the ECB’s management of the crisis, calling for the governing body to publish details of Pietersen’s perceived indiscretions.
Former England captain Botham told Sky Sports News: “He is one of the best cricketers this country has ever had – and if his career has been terminated, why not tell us why?
“Don’t give us the one-liner – ‘we’re moving on, we’re doing this, we’re doing that’. He’s 33, not 43.
“I do believe the ECB need to come out and lay their cards on the table, explain their decision ... I think the cricketing public deserve that.”
It is unlikely they will get it, other than in dribs and drabs of eye-witness accounts which might yet be legally permissible in years to come.