Pietersen floodgates could open

Kevin Pietersen is no longer part of England's plans

Kevin Pietersen is no longer part of England's plans

First published in National Sport News © by

Kevin Pietersen is free to seek new employers but may discover those negotiations have to take place while unwelcome details emerge about the circumstances surrounding the end of his international career.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been at great pains to date to make only the most careful public comment about the reasons for deciding Pietersen was suddenly surplus to its requirements.

That may be about to change, however, following the successful conclusion of arrangements surrounding severance of the batsman's ECB contract, which was due to run until September until it was revealed last week that he is no longer part of England's plans.

It is understood that information contained in tweets from Pietersen's celebrity confidant Piers Morgan, about team meetings towards the end of England's Ashes whitewash in Australia this winter, have raised eyebrows among the South Africa-born batsman's former employers.

England vice-captain Matt Prior, and stalwart all-rounder Tim Bresnan on the wicketkeeper's behalf, have both been moved to respond - also via Twitter - to Morgan's accusations.

Prior took issue with the suggestion he had "stabbed (Pietersen) in the back".

It is thought Morgan's version of events relates to a team meeting in which players discussed their collective relationship with then team director Andy Flower.

England were already 4-0 down in the Ashes by then, and it has been reported that Pietersen misjudged the mood of the meeting and was vociferously critical of Flower.

Several parties, according to the same narrative, were then required to account back to team management about what was and was not said.

Whatever the exact details, the consequence of England's difficult tour and an apparent straining of some working relationships, is that both Flower and Pietersen no longer hold the positions they did.

Flower resigned at the end of last month, and four days later England announced that Pietersen would not be chosen for the forthcoming limited-overs tour of the West Indies or the higher-profile ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

The player's own remarks, in a joint press release with ECB, made it abundantly clear in fact that his England days were over.

Both parties appeared to go to significant lengths to ensure no regrettable content.

The same perhaps cannot be said for an irate Morgan's subsequent tweets, and the ECB conclusion may turn out to be that there has been a breach of trust.

Lucrative offers doubtless await Pietersen in Thursday's Indian Premier League auction.

There is also the prospect of signing on with other clubs or franchises - such as Surrey, thought to be keen to retain the destructive batsman's services after his contract there lapsed at the same time his ECB deal ended.

In the background, however, the 33-year-old could probably do without discontent over his previous employment rumbling on very publicly.

Meanwhile, Andrew Flintoff believes Pietersen has been made a scapegoat for England's Ashes failure and questioned the team spirit in the camp after watching the treatment of his former colleague.

Former England captain Flintoff believes it is wrong to single out individuals, and claims it would not have happened in his day.

"The England teams I played in, the buzzword was always the 'group'," Flintoff told the Daily Mail.

"That was the mantra, 'The group is close, the group is tight' - and when we were all doing well, that was true. The group stuck together because the group all wanted to take credit for victory and get their column inches in the newspaper."

"If his attitude was that bad, why did he play five Tests?" he added.

"Who made the decision to drop him? Do they genuinely believe we are better off without him, or are they just fearful for their own jobs and too afraid to say no? I can't imagine what Kevin could have done, or what the ECB could announce, that would allow this to make sense."

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