Head of English cricket: I didn’t deceive Kevin Pietersen
LONDON (AP) — Colin Graves officially took over as the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board on Friday — and marked the occasion by reigniting a spat with the country’s most controversial player.
Graves chose his first day in the role to respond to claims by Kevin Pietersen that he was deceived about a possible recall by the national team after more than a year out of the international game.
In a saga that has dominated the sporting agenda in England this week, Pietersen was told on Monday he had no chance of getting back into the England set-up in the short term because there remained a lack of trust between him and the ECB.
Pietersen reacted by saying he was misled, having been told by Graves in March that there would be a “clean slate” if he signed for an English county and scored runs. Pietersen scored 355 not out for Surrey this week — a career-high score.
“My integrity has been called into question, something I can’t accept,” Graves said in a statement, marking his first comments as ECB chairman.
“I didn’t make any promises. There were no guarantees (to Pietersen).”
Pietersen had his contract terminated by England after the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia, with the ECB saying he became disengaged with the squad and it wanted a new team ethic. Pietersen released an autobiography later in the year in which he criticized England players and officials, but he still harbored a return to the national side.
The appointment of Graves appeared to give the South Africa-born Pietersen fresh hope of playing again for his adopted country, for whom he is the all-time top run-scorer across all formats.
Graves was quoted by British newspaper The Daily Telegraph in March as saying if Pietersen played for a county and scored a lot of runs, “they can’t ignore him, I would have thought.”
Pietersen secured a release from the start of his Indian Premier League contract and signed for Surrey, where he agreed to play for free with his salary going to charity. He started the domestic season well, with his triple-hundred on Monday coming on the same day he was due to meet the new ECB director of cricket, Andrew Strauss.
Strauss told Pietersen he would still not be picked, leading Pietersen to write in a newspaper column: “I just find it incredibly deceitful what has happened to me.”
Graves said: “Given the history and the book, the simple fact is that bridges have still not been rebuilt and trust needs to be restored. That takes time — as Andrew Strauss made clear this week.
“Kevin was told on Monday, and I completely support the decision that was taken. He may not have liked what he heard but it allowed him to look at his opportunities. Despite everything, he can work with us to rebuild the relationship and make a further contribution to English cricket.”
Graves will move onto other issues, namely overseeing the appointment of a new coach following the firing of Peter Moores last week. There are less than two months until the start of the Ashes series and the ECB wants to make the appointment before then.
Graves is also expected to make changes to the domestic game, including the inauguration of a Premier League-style Twenty20 competition.