London - Kevin Pietersen's international career was ended because captain Alastair Cook needed to be able to trust and rely on the support of all his players, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Sunday.
The controversial batsman's England career finished on Tuesday when he was left out of the squad for this month's one-day tour of West Indies and the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March.
“The team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia,” the ECB said in a statement, referring to the 5-0 Test defeat Down Under.
“To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other.
“It is for those reasons we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.”
The ECB had come under-fire for not disclosing the reasons for sacking Pietersen, with friends of the South African-born 33-year-old, current and former players and media commentators wading into the debate.
Television personality Piers Morgan and England wicketkeeper Matt Prior engaged in a spat on social media.
Pietersen's only public comment was contained in the original statement announcing his sacking, during which he said he regretted he would not be playing for England again.
“Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB's decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England team director and some of England's players,” the ECB said on Sunday.
“Clearly what happens in the dressing room or team meetings should remain in that environment and not be distributed to people not connected with the team. This is a core principle of any sports team and any such action would constitute a breach of trust and team ethics.
“Whilst respecting that principle it is important to stress that (former coach) Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.”
Pietersen scored 8,181 runs in 104 tests, including 23 centuries, and more than 4,000 runs in one-day internationals but he was never far from controversy.
His impact on and off the field was dramatic and he was dropped over “provocative” text messages sent to opposition players during a test series against South Africa in 2012 before being reintegrated into the squad.
Following England's drubbing in Australia, however, media reports emerged of more problems. Pietersen, for his part, said he wanted to keep playing in all three formats of the game until at least 2015.
The ECB offered additional support for Cook, Prior and Flower on Sunday.
“These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image and it is ironic they were the people who led the re-integration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012,” the ruling body said.
Pietersen, no longer contracted to the ECB, is now likely to turn his attention to lucrative Twenty20 competitions in India and other countries and possibly move into the media.
“The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade,” said the board. “He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.” – Reuters