Captain Pietersen quits in England turmoil

By Ross Hart

English cricket is in turmoil as captain Kevin Pietersen resigned and coach Peter Moores was sacked in dramatic fashion yesterday.

Batsman Andrew Strauss will captain England for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies, which starts on January 25th with a warm up match against a St Kitts and Nevis Invitation XI before the first test in Jamaica on February 4th.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said that there had been an “irretrievable breakdown” in Pietersen and Moores’ relationship and that the squad had been split as a result.

In a statement, Hugh Morris, managing director of the ECB, said: “The England and Wales Cricket Board has late this afternoon accepted, with regret, the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as England captain.

“Kevin recognised that in the present situation it was impossible to restore the dressing room unity, which is vital, if England are to win the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean, the ICC global events or regain the Ashes in the npower Ashes Test series.”

Morris stated that Pietersen remained a “highly valued” player and that he was “delighted” that he wished to continue to play for England in the future.

Pietersen released a statement before flying back to Heathrow airport early this morning from Durban, where he had been on holiday.

He said: “In light of recent communications with the ECB, and the unfortunate media stories and speculation that have subsequently appeared, I now consider that it would be extremely difficult for me to continue in my current position with the England cricket team.”

On coach Moores, Morris commented: “I have the greatest respect for the dignity which Peter Moores has shown in recent days when he has found himself under extreme pressure.”

The rift between the pair is widely believed to be over the running of the team, with Pietersen wishing to recall former captain Michael Vaughan for the tests in the West Indies, which Moores opposed.

Pietersen captained England in just three tests, earning a win over South Africa before drawing and losing one apiece to India.

Moores loses his job just 18 months after succeeding Duncan Fletcher and lost four out of seven test matches.

Strauss meanwhile is viewed as a safe appointment as captain after skippering England to a test victory over Pakistan in 2006 in the absence of Vaughan. 

The ECB will be hoping he is able to unite a divided dressing room ahead of the tour of the Carribean and England’s bid to regain the Ashes against Australia this summer.