London – Former England captain Andrew Strauss has lifted the lid on his stand-off with Kevin Pietersen that overshadowed his final days as an international cricketer, saying he felt “let down” by the star batsman.
And his comments, in Saturday's Daily Mail serialisation of his autobiography, 'My Driving Ambition' placed a question mark over his expressed interest in succeeding Hugh Morris as England's new managing director of cricket – a position that would effectively mean he was Pietersen's boss.
Strauss retired in August last year following England's Test series loss to South Africa during which the generally good relations he enjoyed with Pietersen, the man he succeeded as captain, hit rock bottom.
The low points came following reports Pietersen, South Africa born and raised, had sent derogatory text messages to his friends in the Proteas' dressing room regarding Strauss, including advice on how to dismiss the left-hander.
The texts became public after a drawn fourth Test in Leeds where Pietersen scored a superb 149 only to say it was “hard being me” in the England dressing room, with the fall-out seeing the gifted shotmaker dropped from the team that played the final Test against the Proteas.
Strauss, recalling his feelings, wrote: “The England cricket team are in crisis again. Coach Andy Flower and I have found ourselves in the middle of a destabilising and potentially damaging PR game between Kevin Pietersen, the England cricket team and the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board).
“I feel incredibly tired, as though I have simply run out of energy – I have nothing more to give. I am also wallowing in a rising tide of sadness. This is not the way I wanted my England career to end.
“I was dumbfounded. I wasn't all that bothered about him sending texts to a few South African players he knew quite well. I did, however, have issues with him criticising me to the opposition.
“That felt like talking out of school, not to mention giving the opposition a way to drive a wedge between Pietersen and myself and the team,” Strauss, who played exactly 100 Tests for England, added.
“From that moment, clear battle lines were drawn between Pietersen and the ECB, with both sides involved in a PR/legal battle to gain public support and cover themselves in the event of litigation,” the now 36-year-old Strauss said.
“There were many involved with English cricket, including myself, who felt particularly let down.
“For me, he (Pietersen) had crossed the line. He seemed to be at best destabilising and at worst undermining our carefully cultivated team environment.”
However, Strauss, who said Pietersen had come round to his house to offer an apology in person, did not believe he'd passed on tips to South Africa about how best to dismiss him.
“If he really had given information about how to get me out, well, that amounted to treachery and I would never forgive him,” wrote Strauss.
“I am confident, in retrospect, that he did not give the South Africans information on how to get me out.”
Pietersen, quickly 'reintegrated' into the England set-up during the subsequent tour of India under new captain Alastair Cook, is in line to play his 100th Test in November's Ashes opener against Australia in Brisbane.
Earlier this month Strauss, asked by AFP about the possibility of succeeding Morris as the ECB's managing director of cricket, said: “I'm looking into it but they're decisions that need to made over the next couple of weeks and I'll think quite long and hard about whether it's the right time and the right job for me.” – Sapa-AFP