Andrew Strauss explains Kevin Pietersen England exclusion - full transcript

 
Ross McLean
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Kevin Pietersen has been told he won't play for England this summer. (Source: Getty)

England’s new director of cricket Andrew Strauss and Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), faced journalists yesterday to explain why they would not be recalling Kevin Pietersen for this summer’s Ashes, despite the maverick batsman advancing his case with a triple century for Surrey this week. Here is the full transcript. Some questions have been paraphrased.

ANDREW STRAUSS: I went to see Kevin Pietersen last night with Tom Harrison to give him the ECB position on his future. In that meeting I said to him that we had no plans for him to play for England this summer and that we couldn’t make any guarantees going forward. That allowed him to get clarity on the situation.
QUESTION: You say there is a lack of trust – who doesn’t trust Kevin and why?
ANDREW STRAUSS: It’s really important that we’re open and honest about the actual situation. We haven’t addressed this properly in the past. Kevin Pietersen is a fantastic cricketer, we all know that, his record stands for itself and he should be very proud of his record. But over the months and the years trust between him and the ECB has eradicated and we’re in a situation right now where there is a massive trust issue between him and the ECB. It’s not the ECB not trusting him, it’s very much a two-way process and I’m not apportioning blame, it’s just the facts over a number of issues and that’s the situation we encountered and that’s the situation we face at the moment. If you want to resolve a problem, the first thing you need to do is admit there is a problem in the first place. That’s what we’ve done today. Because of this trust issue we’ve made the decision that in the short term he is not part of our plans for the England cricket team. My view is that no team environment can sustain a lack of trust. It’s the foundation.
Q. What’s happened to break the trust? KP not played for 16 months and a lot of people don’t know why.
ANDREW STRAUSS: I think there have been a number issues through the years that we can pinpoint but is there any point in going over that again and dragging up the dirty laundry? The situation is what it is and my job is to create a pathway for the England cricket team going forward, for us to develop our young players. I think this is the best way to do that, by providing clarity on this issue which has been overshadowing English cricket for the last 18 months.

Read more: Four reasons why Strauss is wrong to exclude Pietersen from the England team

Q. But you’re not providing clarity if you’re not saying what those trust issues are...
ANDREW STRAUSS: I’m providing clarity in the fact I’m telling him and you that he’s not part of our plans in the short term and I can make no guarantees beyond that. I’ve got to say just to be clear this is a decision that myself, Tom and Colin [Graves, ECB chairman] are completely aligned on.
Q. Did Kevin accept there were trust issues and that it was a two-way street?
ANDREW STRAUSS: Kevin and I had a private conversation and I don’t want to divulge the content of that conversation. He wasn’t happy with the decision. I didn’t expect him to be but I do think it was important to meet face-to-face and give him the reasons.
Q. If you don’t trust him why did you offer him a one-day advisory role?
ANDREW STRAUSS: Because I think, firstly, when it comes to one-day cricket, we’ve got to be prepared to think outside the box. We can’t keep doing the same things we’ve done in the past and Kevin is a great example of someone who has been able to do that in the past. He has played Twenty20 competitions all around the world. I think he has got a very big voice and a very good opinion to help us form our strategy long term. I also saw it, if I am honest with you, as potentially a way of starting to build trust again. At the moment he doesn’t feel as if he is able to take up that position. I understand it but I hope in time he might reconsider.
Q. Some people might say you wouldn’t approach this with an open mind given what you said over the microphone and also 2012 and the messages.
ANDREW STRAUSS: Kevin and my relationship has never been quite as bad as people have made out. We spent a lot of time in the England dressing room together. We’ve had our run-ins over time and I think we’ve both said and done things we probably regret and I have obviously got to hold my hand up in that regard as well. But from the moment Tom asked me to do this job, these decisions we’ve made, I’ve tried to be as objective as possible and use the life-raft or the foundation as being what is in the best interests of English cricket going forward. That is very much the case in the decision over Peter Moores and it’s very much the combined decision over Kevin Pietersen, but I think we all agree it’s the best thing for English cricket going forward that there is clarity on this issue.

Read more: Tremlett: KP and Cook are grown men and may have to forget disagreements

Q. Has KP been led up the garden path a little bit?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I think we’ve all been trying to find a solution to this problem and it’s not an easy problem. Having spoken to Colin and Tom, I think we’ve come to a solution and we think it is the best one going forward. Hopefully it provides the most clarity to everyone.
TOM HARRISON: This is about drawing a line under a really, really difficult issue for English cricket since the Ashes going back 15/16 months. It’s been something we’ve had to have clarity on and hopefully we are giving you clarity now.
Q. Do you think the trust between yourself, KP and the ECB can be rebuilt in time?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I don’t think we should rule it out. At the moment we’re a long way apart, let’s be honest on that. But if there is a way we can come together I think we should explore it. What that looks like, I haven’t got any answers on that one at the moment. Let’s see how things progress.
Q. Why were the full board not asked for their views?
TOM HARRISON: The full board of the ECB will be brought into certain decisions. This is not one that requires us to go around the board person by person.
Q. Did you consult Alastair Cook?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I did not consult Alastair Cook on this at all.
Q. Any other players?
ANDREW STRAUSS: No. I think it is important to make the point that this is not about members of the England dressing room and Kevin Pietersen. It’s about the ECB and Kevin Pietersen and the ECB as an organisation. It is much broader than the 11 guys in that dressing room.
Q. But Tom has never worked with KP and had no contact with him, and Colin Graves was not the chairman when these problems blew up...
ANDREW STRAUSS: I think the point to make is that the number of issues over a number of years has provided this lack of trust. We’re in a situation where whatever anybody does there is always suspicion to their intentions. That’s not helpful.
Q. Was the book damaging?

TOM HARRISON: I think when you’re talking about trust as a theory, the book does not help obviously as a lot of relationships were laid to bear in it.

Read more: Pietersen eyes timely reminder of Test ability

Q. What did you think last night when he scored a hundred, 200 and then 300 on the night of the meeting?
ANDREW STRAUSS: It didn’t make it difficult in my thinking because I never doubted his abilities as a player. It didn’t make any difference to the fundamental issues that we have.
Q. When the chairman said ‘go back to county cricket and score runs and you will be considered’ and then Pietersen scores 300 on the day he is to be sacked...
TOM HARRISON: He’s not been sacked. He’s just been told he is not going to be part of the plans going forward.
Q. Short term, does that not put a cloud over the issues, whenever England lose?
TOM HARRISON: What we’re saying, in order to draw some clarity we needed to make a decision. We’ve made a decision and we’re moving into a phase where we’re very excited. This is effectively day one of a new era for English cricket. We’re very excited about some of the young players coming through. We have a very challenging programme of events going forward. We know this issue was one which was causing long-term angst right across the game and we’ve tried to draw a line under that today. We understand it is not a universally popular decision but it’s a decision we are taking, as the paid employers, for the long-term benefit of cricket and we have to take some hard calls on that.
Q. Can you see that he has done what the chairman-elect asked him to do?
TOM HARRISON: The chairman elect, the chairman, Andrew and I are 100 per cent aligned on this decision.
Q. Are you concerned that some might see the currency of runs and wickets is no longer the primary qualification?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I don’t think that is what I’m saying and I don’t think it’s ever been the case. We’ve got a unique situation here that has built up over a long period of time and I do believe that trust is a pretty strong foundation to any organisation and any team to be able work effectively so that’s the situation we have at the minute. Ultimately, we need to move the England cricket team forward and I feel we’ve given ourselves the best chance of doing that by making this decision. The reason we have made this decision is we needed to address the core issue. We haven’t addressed it up until now. We’ve touched around the sides of it without addressing it full on. That’s what we’re doing right now. We don’t expect it to be popular with everyone, we understand people’s concerns about English cricket. I personally it’s given us the best chance of moving forward. We all know this has overshadowed English cricket for a long time now and we need to move forward.

Q. Were there mistakes in handling of KP. Is the situation where KP is not trusted totally down to KP?
ANDREW STRAUSS: No it’s down to everyone. I’m not apportioning any blame whatsoever. It’s the situation we find ourselves in right now. Nobody wants to be in this situation we’re in. A lot of people have done things and said things they shouldn’t have in the past but we are where we are.
Q. How do you believe the English public view English cricket?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I think they will be disappointed. They have got used to us being very successful. From 2005 to 2012 we had a huge number of successes. The last 18 months or so has been less successful so they are frustrated, I can imagine they are. We’re all a little disappointed how quickly things have gone south for us. I think there have been some shoots of recovery, we saw that last summer when we beat a very strong Indian side in England. We have a huge amount of work to do and ultimately the only way we gain the English cricketing public is by performing well and performing in the right way. That’s going to take time to do that as we need confidence in order to do so.
Q. Do you not think Australia will be laughing their socks off at this?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I don’t you would ever make your decision based on what Australia don’t want you to do, you make a decision on what you think is the right thing for English cricket.
Q. Why can you not say never with KP?
TOM HARRISON: What we’re saying is for the foreseeable future we can’t have him as part of our plans because there is this issue of trust. We’ve also said, going forward, that if there is a way and we haven’t got the answers yet, then we are prepared to explore those ways to enable a recovery of sorts in some way, shape or form. That’s why there was an offer to come and offer some thoughts on the one-day game. One of the reasons why we’re not saying never is because that doesn’t seem satisfactory either. It’s about saying we’re an organisation that likes to have an adult conversation with people and try and move forward in the right way. It’s not about just carving people out for the sake of it. We have to address the issue, we our addressing issue, it’s not going to be resolved in the short term but in the long term of course we’re in a position where we want to investigate every avenue possible to ensure that we have done what we can.
Q. Is [national selector] James Whitaker’s position under threat?
ANDREW STRAUSS: The selection structure generally needs to be looked at a little bit. I think there have been instances over the last few years over responsibility and accountability for decisions. But at the same time that structure is put in place after a great deal of thought after the Schofield Report, and it would be wrong for me to rip it up with an idea I have jotted out on the back of fag packet. It is something which needs to be though through very carefully. If there is a better way let’s have a look at it. For the time being, I don’t have the answer so the sensible thing to do is leave the current structure in place and the current people in place and for me to work with them so I can understand how the structure works from a selectors point of view and then also decide what is the right way forward after the end of the summer. And to make sure we pick the best possible England side over the course of this summer.
Q. For the time being, three remaining selectors and [interim coach] Paul Farbrace will pick team?
ANDREW STRAUSS: Yeah and I’ll be sitting in on selection.
Q. Will you have the power of veto?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I’m in charge of the selection process.
Q. Will you chair?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I will be in on the meeting about selection will be working exactly the same way as in the past for this summer and then we’ll see when we go forward?
Q. There is a trust issue with KP yet you have kept faith with a captain [Eoin Morgan] who played in the Indian Premier League over captaining England [in last week’s ODI against Ireland]?
TOM HARRISON: One of the things we be doing going forward is to take a pragmatic view over the experiences that our players can gain in playing in the IPL. It’s going to be a key issue for us going forward to adopt. We have to look at year on year because we don’t know how it will impact our schedule until those schedules are released. There is no doubt that players benefit in playing in the IPL. We’re looking at the moment through the domestic structure and review we’re doing at creating a vehicles which enables us to create something very powerful of our own which allows us to develop our own players in our own backyard in Twenty20 cricket and white-ball cricket across the board. There were no objections delivered from the ECB in respect of the four players who wanted to play in the IPL. Two got picked up in the draft. It’s encouraging that players are in the thoughts of the IPL draft and we should think hard about the role that competition could play in the development of our players.
ANDREW STRAUSS: We’ve got to be prepared to do things differently in one-day cricket. What we’ve done in the past is not necessary relevant in what we do in the future and maybe this is the start of the process we need to go through.
Q. Could Peter Moores get another job at ECB?
ANDREW STRAUSS: We haven’t had any conversations.
Q. No guarantees to any player, what about Alastair Cook?
ANDREW STRAUSS: What I’ve said about Alastair Cook is that I see him leading the side this summer. No-one knows exactly ho things are going to go but I don believe that with everything going on, the upheaval that has been going on, it is very important we have stability in that England cricket team and this is a way of providing that.
Q. Fitness permitting, he will be captaining in first Test at Cardiff?
ANDREW STRAUSS: As far as I can see, absolutely.
Q. Timescale appointing of coach? Does Farbrace have a chance?
ANDREW STRAUSS: It’s all pretty fresh and new and the attention so far has been on the process [rather] than contacting people. I’ve asked Paul to take over in a caretaker capacity and I think he sees his role long term as more of an assistant coach and I think he can provide some real stability in that role. He has done that role brilliantly. Now the time has come to start approaching people, talking to them and trying to find someone whose philosophy on the game of cricket is aligned with mine and a guy that has the ideas, the vision and the energy to take the England cricket team forward.
Q. Is it difficult to attract a coach given the long slog that is the international calendar?
ANDREW STRAUSS: I still think the England head coach’s job is a very powerful position and probably in the top two or three coaching positions that any coach could have and I’m sure it will appeal to a lot of people. We have to find ways of finding breaks, not just for the players but for at times the coaches. Anybody that took the England coaching job knows the territory and they are doing it for the challenge of doing that role. We’ve always got to produce self-reliant crickets. Nobody walks out to bat with you, nobody walks out to bowl with you. You’ve got to be able to make those decisions yourself. I’ve always been a big believer in you only allow people to do that if you allow them to make decisions for themselves off the pitch. I can’t comment what’s gone on over the last year and a half or two years because I haven’t been a part of that environment, but that was always the type of environment we tried to instil when I was captain and it’s a type of environment that any cricket coach would want to instil in my mind.

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