Image courtesy of: The Guardian
“This is not the way I wanted my England career to end”
Former England captain Andrew Strauss has finally broken his silence over the heated dispute he had with batsman Kevin Pietersen last summer during the national team’s home series against South Africa.
Strauss noted how be felt betrayed by the fact that Pietersen had sent derogatory text messages about him to the South African players in an attempt to undermine his captaincy.
Pietersen’s text messaging antics saw him banished from the national team and miss out on representing England in the 2012 World Twenty20.
Strauss’ 100th Test match was also marred by the controversy and after South Africa won the series 2-0 and replaced England as the number one Test team in the world, Strauss announced his retirement as he was “tired and generally hacked off with life”.
In his new autobiography, Driving Ambition, Strauss reveals how he spoke to Pietersen while playing golf a few days before the start of the South Africa series after rumours arose that Pietersen was “preparing to separate himself from English cricket”.
“I had heard some troubling rumours he might be preparing to separate himself from English cricket after a further attempt to get the ECB to yield ground had failed,” Strauss wrote. “At a golf day a few days before the first Test, I took him to one side to ask what was going on. It was clear he was far from happy. I challenged him to think about his legacy and the goals he wanted to reach with the rest of his career. Unfortunately, we were interrupted and it is fair to say that I did not know at the time quite how close he was to the edge.”
After being beaten by an innings and 12 runs during the first Test at The Oval, Strauss remembers how Pietersen “seemed completely withdrawn”.
“On the practice days, he seemed completely withdrawn, as though he was consciously distancing himself from the team, and on the first day of the game itself he seemed determined to let everyone in the ground know just how unhappy he was,” Strauss said. “As captain, I could not let it go and I called him into a back room to make it clear his behaviour was unacceptable. I was shocked by his lack of contrition and his apparent hostility towards me. It felt as though he was trying to goad me into a confrontation. It was almost as if he was trying to engineer an excuse to turn his back on the team.”
Despite scoring a magnificent 149 during the second Test at Headingley, which ended as a draw, Pietersen’s comments at the post-match press conference “crossed the line” in Strauss’ mind.
“I was unsurprised to then hear Kevin had given a disturbing press conference following what was a thrilling drawn Test match,” Strauss said. “What greatly puzzled me, though, was his comment that, ‘It’s tough being me, playing for England’, seemingly implying he was being treated badly by his team-mates in the dressing room. For me, he had crossed the line. He seemed to be at best destabilising and at worst undermining our carefully cultivated team environment.”
Due to Pietersen’s constant remarks about finding it “tough” to play for England, Strauss revealed how he felt “incredibly tired” and as if he had “simply run out of energy”.
“I feel incredibly tired, as though I have simply run out of energy – I have nothing more to give,” he said. “I am also wallowing in a rising tide of sadness. This is not the way I wanted my England career to end.”
Even though Pietersen was dropped for the final Test at Lord’s, Strauss could not enjoy the occasion of representing England in 100 Test matches.
Strauss admitted that he had never wanted his international career to end with his head buried in his hands.
“This is the last time I will make this walk as an England cricketer, although I am far too frustrated, tired and generally hacked off with life for it to be a rousing emotional affair,” he said. “I find my space in the far corner of the room, near the television set, and sit down. I pack my helmet in my kitbag and then bury my head in my hands. For 10 minutes I sit, unable to move.”