sport

ECB explains Pietersen axing

The ECB have announced that Kevin Pietersen was axed because they could not trust him to give his full support to captain Alastair Cook.

The ECB released a statement criticising the "unwarranted and unpleasant" reaction to Pietersen's ousting last week, with Cook, former Test team director Andy Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Priot coming in for particular scorn.

The statement insisted Cook needed the support and trust of all his team-mates as England look to rebuild following their drubbing in Australia.

It was also confirmed that the ECB has reached an agreement with Pietersen over his release from his central contract, which effectively ends his international career.

The statement read: "It has been a matter of great frustration that until now the England and Wales Cricket Board has been unable to respond to the unwarranted and unpleasant criticism of England players and the ECB itself, which has provided an unwelcome backdrop to the recent negotiations to release Kevin Pietersen from his central contract.

"Those negotiations have been successfully concluded and whilst both parties remain bound by confidentiality provisions the ECB would like to make the following comments.

"The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.

"However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. 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 that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.

"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.

"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 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.

"These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image, and it is ironic that they were the people who led the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012."