Cook shares his thoughts on the Pietersen saga

Alastair Cook Kevin Pietersen saga toughest time of career England cricket

Alastair Cook: “It was the toughest time of my career and there’s no doubt that it affected my batting”

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England opener Alastair Cook has admitted that the Kevin Pietersen saga “was the toughest time of my career”.

Following England’s 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Australia in the 2013/14 Ashes series, Pietersen was ousted from the team in a bitter and public affair.

While Cook admitted that he wanted Pietersen to be given “some time off”, he insisted that he wanted the door left open for the former batsman to return.

“It was the toughest time of my career and there’s no doubt that it affected my batting,” Cook, who will retire from international cricket after the fifth Test against India, told BBC Sport. “The day when Straussy came out and said Kevin wasn’t going to play for us anymore, that was a massive weight off my shoulders.

“I was involved in the original decision, but the England captain doesn’t have the final say on hiring and firing. I agreed with it, but I said ‘why don’t we give him some time off, we can go away and maybe KP can come back later on’.

“Paul Downton, Strauss’ predecessor, wanted clarity and a clean break, because people would always be asking when is Pietersen coming back. You had to back his decision because that’s what his job was.

“The fallout was pretty nasty and I don’t think the ECB handled it well or appreciated how social media worked back then. I bore a lot of the brunt of it, but I suppose that’s what being captain is.

“I would refute anyone saying that I was the one that chucked Pietersen down the stairs, but I was involved in the decision and I believed it was right at that time. What could have happened a year later, I don’t know.”

While Pietersen has been very vocal about the saga since he retired, Cook revealed that he has not spoken to his former teammate since the day the decision was made.

“Looking back, I can safely say all the decisions I made were done for the best of the England cricket team at that time,” he said. “On that one, there were a lot of other people, way above my head, also involved in it. I felt like I was being left alone as the captain.

“I haven’t spoken to Pietersen since that day, but I think time is a great healer. We spent a lot of time together and created some amazing memories. As two blokes, if you take cricket out of it, we have never fallen out. Since then, the internet has fallen out for us. He will have a different opinion, I’m sure.”