Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Nearly four years after it happened, Graham Gooch has revealed why he got into a heated dispute with former England batsman Kevin Pietersen during the 2013/14 Ashes series.
Gooch was England’s batting coach during that forgettable trip Down Under as the tourists were whitewashed 5-0 by the Baggy Greens.
In the second innings of the third Test in Perth, Pietersen was caught by former Australia pace bowler Ryan Harris at long-on off the bowling of Nathan Lyon for 45.
Upon returning to the dressing room, Gooch expressed his disappointment towards Pietersen’s shot selection before taking aim at then captain Alastair Cook.
“On that tour the Australians worked him out completely,” Gooch said at an event organised by The Cricketer magazine. “You don’t sledge Kevin. You actively engage him in chat, conversation, you be nice to him. Michael Clarke, in my opinion, played him to a T.
“What do you do with Kevin when he comes into bat? First of all you bowl full and straight. There’s a chance of knocking him over, he may play across a straight one. What do you do after that? You make overt field changes in front of his eyes. You almost stop the bowler just as he is about to bowl, and say, ‘I want two midwickets’, or whatever.
“Kevin would think, that’s a challenge, he took the bait all the time. Great players don’t get caught at midwicket, deep square leg, caught mid-on.
“Alastair Cook was sitting next to me, and Andy Flower (head coach). Pietersen was caught at long-off (off Nathan Lyon). To be fair, he’s a modern-thinking player, he’s thinking, ‘I’ll hit it over his head’. But we were trying to save the game. Fighting for our lives, we were getting annihilated. It was exactly the circumstances I said, man back at long-on, challenge him, hole out and get caught.
“He’d been caught at mid-on from a baseball shot first innings. I let him have it on the balcony about responsibilities. I [then] pointed to Alastair and said, ‘you should effing well be telling him this, not me!’ That was it. That was the end of me.”
However, that wasn’t the end of the incident as Pietersen confronted Gooch the next day and was less than impressed with the way in which the 63-year-old had spoken to him.
“Pietersen came to me in the nets, and said, ‘Don’t you ever talk to me like that again’. And I said, ‘I will talk to you how I want, you need to be told’. He then played the most responsible innings at Melbourne (fourth Test, he scored 71) he’d played all tour,” he said.
Gooch added that the 36-year-old had infuriated him earlier in the series when he refused to move up the order after ex-batsman Jonathan Trott returned back to England with a stress-related illness.
“When Jonathan Trott went home, I suggested Kevin bat No 3,” Gooch said. “We got beaten in the first Test. We needed someone to stand up to the Australians. ‘I bat 4,’ he said. ‘We need you to bat 3,’ I replied. ‘No, I bat 4.’ ‘No, you bat for the team, we need to make a statement…’
“Kevin had his own way of thinking about things. I just think a great player plays for the situation, not to the occasion.”