The Kevin Pietersen Sacking: The Silence Is Deafening

Ten days have now passed since the confidentiality agreement expired and still the ECB haven’t explained the Kevin Pietersen sacking.

What are they waiting for?

Huge significance was attached to the lifting of Pietersen’s gagging clause. What would he say? And now he’s said it, what does it mean?

But amid all the heat and noise around his book (see our review by Tregaskis), it’s been slightly overlooked that the ECB themselves are now also free to speak. They can tell us what happened, openly and fully.

Surely they have something of great import to say. Only last week, Paul Downton told Mike Atherton in The Times that he “really didn’t see any alternative” to firing the leading run scorer in English cricket history.

You can only sympathise with the ECB, who all this time have been yearning to reveal all to their dearly-valued supporters. How they’ve longed to open up and get everything off their chests. If only it hadn’t been for that pesky confidentiality agreement getting in the way. What a nuisance!

We’ve all sensed their frustration at being – until now – unable to reveal their rationale for the Kevin Pietersen sacking. When Paul Downton appeared on Test Match Special on 22nd May, he explained that the legal position limited what he could say. Seven weeks earlier, on 1st April, it was clear that Alastair Cook was champing at the bit to reveal all:

“I can’t actually answer that question totally at this precise moment in time, which is incredibly frustrating for me. Everyone will say I’m sitting on the fence but there are a number of reasons which will become clearer soon.

“You have to respect the decision, the position I’m in at this precise moment. Everyone is going to keep asking that question until we give the answers but at the moment we just can’t, so I’d love to talk about something slightly different if possible.

“It is frustrating. If anyone thinks the decision was taken lightly and without a lot of consideration and a lot of thought…a lot of things went into the decision. It was a tough decision and the decisions will be made clearer in due course, and you just have to respect that at the moment. It is frustrating but that is the position I’m in at the moment and that is what it is.”

Ever since February 4th, while we’ve fuminated and speculated, ECB sympathisers have always been able to say, ‘but you haven’t heard the other side of the story…they must have had their reasons’. Implicit in the ECB’s stance, and repeated references to the gagging clause, was the notion – almost a guarantee – that as soon as the embargo was lifted, they would speak.

Ten days have passed. Nothing.

Why does it matter? Because the ECB’s failure to explain the Kevin Pietersen sacking goes to the very heart of this entire saga.

We were angry – we are still angry – because Paul Downton and Giles Clarke sacked our best player without telling us why. As they saw it, there was no need to explain to supporters – the people who are the very lifeblood of the game – why such an important cricketer had been summarily and permanently removed from the side.

There are two reasons why they haven’t told us.

The first is that they have nothing to say which would be remotely convincing or satisfactory. As the dossier, revealed, the ECB had no genuine reasons for firing Pietersen, beyond ill-defined dislike and Flower’s personal grudge.

Even Paul Downton is not quite so naive that he’d go into a press conference and talk about whistling and looking out of windows.

The second reason is much more profound. The ECB remain silent because they simply don’t see the need to tell supporters anything of substance unless it involves Waitrose or Buxton Water. We serve no purpose other than to keep quiet and buy the tickets. We should know our place and be grateful.

Giles Clarke holds us in contempt. Supporters are at best an irrelevance and at worst a bloody pain in the neck. Do you think he’s spent the last few days fretting about what we think?

This is what I wrote two days after the Kevin Pietersen sacking. Eight months on, I stand by every word. Have a read and tell me if I was exaggerating.

This is has been the most tumultuous week imaginable for English cricket, and what do the ECB want to tell us about? What’s on their minds? Take a look at their news site, and the big story is that renowned cricket enthusiasts the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been awarded life membership of the MCC. Congrats, Kate and Wills!

What have the ECB deigned to say? Dark Lord Downton has spoken twice about Pietersen, firstly at the Moores press conference, when he thanked the professional journalists for attending but forgot to address the punters who actually pay all their wages.

The best he could come up with was the ‘disinterested and disengaged’ twaddle which he then largely repeated on TMS a month later, an appearance so successful he ended up apologising to Pietersen, and mendaciously claimed that Pietersen had no supporters in the dressing room.

What else? Giles Clarke’s single reference to an affair came in the form of a third-person order:

English supporters must move on. There isn’t going to be any going back, that’s for sure.

And apart from that, nothing, save their infamous press release of 9th February. This was, as Dmitri Old acutely puts it, cricket’s Ratner moment, “the day they betrayed what they really felt about those not in positions of decision making, or close to the right kind of families”.

It was also masterpiece of self-pity and sour hostility.

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.

Eight months later, and nothing has changed. The ECB remain arrogantly aloof and aggressively detached from the people whose support alone sustains the game of which they are merely the temporary custodians, and not, as they believe, the proprietors.

We have been disenfranchised, patronised, and exploited. This is why we became angry and why we continue to be angry. Not because of one man but for what his assassination symbolised. We know that Pietersen will never return to the side but that is completely besides the point. We want them to listen, to apologise, and to respond. Until then we cannot move on. Because nothing has changed.

All you need is baby steps, Giles. Just tell us why you fired him. Is it really that difficult?

You thought the Kevin Pietersen sacking would all blow over and after a few months and a win against India, we’d just forget about it. You were wrong.

Maxie Allen


Update: since posting this piece last night, Alastair Cook has given this interview to the BBC.


  • Brilliant post Maxie. I too have asked several times just where the ECB bigwigs are hiding. Why don’t they respond to Pietersen’s allegations? My view is that they are afraid of being seen as even more incompetent than people like us know them to be.

    I specially liked this bit:

    “All you need is baby steps, Giles. Just tell us why you fired him. Is it really that difficult?”

  • Terrific stuff as ever Maxie. Thanks for the reminder of the utter bluster and filibustering that was Cooks statement. Makes it so much easier to believe he can’t talk in public, or even have an original thought, sadly. Full of PR guff, repeatedly, to hit the sound bites.

    I’ve watched a lot of sport in my 38 years, but I have never heard a team bang on about its “code and ethics” even once. All England Cricket in 2014 has been about is mentioning that every given opportunity, following a blatantly pre-establishe ld ECB line. With no explanation of what the code & ethics actually are. It’s just the blatant bullshittery of it all that depresses. They know they are bullshitting us, and a lot of us know it’s happening. And yet nothing rings in the ECB code & ethics to suggest “maybe bullshitting England supporters is a bad thing”.

    Barney Ronay in the Guardian today was truer than he thought in stating how professional Cricket is now a minority pastime for supporters. I would much rather play next year (despite my only taking 3 wickets & scoring 10 runs in 10 matches this year) than watch the Ashes next year now. And I was at the “lowest ebb” with my cricket form this year. Utterly depressing all round.

  • Better to say nothing and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove you are.

    I can only assume this is carved over the entrance to the ECB headquarters

    • Either that or Dante’s “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.” A Divine Comedy in any language.

    • They’ve had the plumbers round. The leaks have stopped.

      Now they need to remember how to turn the tap on.

  • This article nails what I’ve been saying since the day they sacked him. I’m rapidly tiring of the press, some podcasts, the radio media focusing on Kevin Pietersen’s rows with his fellow employees, his rages against management, his barbs and his whinges. What this book (and I’ve read 200 pages so far) has done has opened up a number of fronts on the ECB.

    My raison d’etre, contrary to what some might think on Twitter, is to call these people to account. As a bloke writing to one man and my friends 9 months ago, I was barking at the moon. I still am. But now I have a few more people listening. I follow the lead of blogs like this, of Twitter feeds like those of Peter Miller, Dave Tickner, Freddie Wilde, AndyinBrum, and from BTLers like Vian, Arron, Clive, SimonH, SimonK (and quite a few others) and those of us still blogging to one man and his dog, like wrong’un. We’ve created, in our own way, the narrative that some still desperately try to avoid. They do so by focusing on bullying, twitter feeds and big bloody cheese.

    This is about how the ECB treats the supporters, given away by “outside cricket”. You don’t need to know. You need to be lied to. You will believe us. We are competent because we are here, and you are not. Don’t you dare question us. And we do not leak.

    We’ve suspected for the last few years that the top brass (and not the many who work tirelessly for the game, I do not mean them) were crap. We knew they leaked, although we were told, regularly, that they did not. Now, when the heat is on them, and they aren’t dishing it out, they shut up and hide.

    Amen, Maxie and James. With you all the way on this one.

  • I always thought that silence would be the ECB preferred response. However there has been so much of a maelstrom that there might be something forthcoming. Perhaps it still resides with Messrs Suegrabbitandrun, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Thinking on it further, if ECB do issue a statement it will simply be a rehash of everything we know, couched in legally protective terminology. That he was difficult, disengaged, confrontational, and in cricketing terms not part of the way forward, whatever that might be. I doubt that it will offer much satisfaction to those below the line, outside of cricket and foaming at the mouth.

    • A good point. What are the chances that any new missive would be less opaque than the earlier ones?

  • Over the last nine months I have discovered blogs and people BTL who are witty, entertaining, intelligent and enormous fun. I know we do ‘t know who we all are or where we live or what we do but cannot help thi king that we would all have a great time down the pub !

  • Thanks for all your kind words. Team effort, though.

    Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the ECB have responded, after all.

    I invite you to perform a close inter-textual analysis between this, published 6pm on Monday 6th October (the day the book came out):

    And this, leaked on the early evening of Tuesday 7th:

  • ECB cannot open up with the real and honest(did I use that word regarding ECB) reason for dismissing KP.” We sacked him because Andy Flower hates his guts and insisted we do so “.They have scratch around trying to find a valid reason but since they haven’t announced one from the rooftops we can only assume they don’t have one.Should they make fools of themselves (again) by using that reason they could be sued for” unfair dismissal “.which of course it was.I hope KP keeps pushing them for a reason because as you say they are not going to listen to us.They need to be made accountable.

  • Maxie,
    The ECB won’t say anything about why KP was sacked because they can’t. Because if they did, it would read something like “KP was sacked because he’s an insufferable, narcissistic pain in the arse, who has fallen out with his captain, his coach and all the senior members of the

    • Sorry – hit enter by mistake!

      “Who has fallen out with his captain, his coach and all the senior members of the team. This was tolerable when he was scoring bags of runs – but he isn’t any more, so he’s gone”.

      And of course they can’t write that, because they’d be sued 7 ways til Sunday.

      Now whether that’s a justifiable reason to sack someone is what we’re all arguing about – but I bet that’s as close to the truth as we’re ever going to get.

      • Or alternatively, and also consistent with what we know, it could be “Kevin Pietersen has fallen out with the coach, the captain, and the vice-captain. Now the coach is leaving, and the guy in line to get the job seems to quite like him; the vice-captain’s career is ending; and he’s getting on far too well with the junior players. And we don’t really trust Cook to keep up the feud once Flower’s gone, as he seems a bit too nice and accommodating.

        It’s one thing having him in the team under sufferance, having forced him to crawl over broken glass to get back in it, because that made us feel powerful and in control. But if he becomes a valued senior player for the next couple of years, and helps to change the way that the team’s run, we would find that unbearable. This is Flower’s side, and don’t you forget it.”

        We’ll never know for sure. But this is all about power, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Pietersen’s position in the team was actually getting stronger, and teammates were finding him more likeable and getting on with him better, before he was sacked.

        • Now that is a new angle I had not thought of.I rather like it.It is true he was getting on with the young lads helping them in fact which was something that upset Andy Flower.They might have even been able to get someone like Compton or Carberry back and even Eoin Morgan able to play his own game again.Who knows.If only.

        • A fascinating analysis, Nick, and scarily plausible.

          This certainly *is* all about power, and as you say, Pietersen was probably a more influential player in late 2013 than he’d ever been. Players were arriving in the side who had idolised him as young players watching on TV.

          Had Pietersen survived till the 2014 summer, the TINA argument would have been blown out of the water. And in Ballance, Root, Moeen, Buttler, Stokes, Jordan, Woakes, Plunkett and Robson almost half the team would have had no anti-KP Flower baggage, and very probably held Pietersen in awe – far more so than Cook, you’d imagine.

  • Superb post, Maxie, and awesome comment by Dmitri. After all their bluster, they really are now battening down the hatchets and waiting for things to blow over. They’ve already lost the battle, they just hope the victors will pack up and go home.

    • Clive I fear that the victors will be forced to pack up and go home because the ECB just refuse to listen/comment. Unless there is a revolt by a very large number of money-paying fans the furore will die down. Unfortunately.

  • Oh great piece Maxie. Lots of great posts as usual. I’ve been on DT and Cricinfo and Twitter today and seeing some of the stuff written by some really does shock me to the core. I feel very sad indeed. In the final analysis KP was such an easy target for so many reasons. He was used, abused, and then thrown away like a – excuse the language – shit covered, throw away doormat. The ECB has talked about a gagging order that they had to abide by, but when did they abide by it? When Clark talked about not being able to accommodate KP or Downton talking about KP saying no one wanted KP in the team. Or perhaps it was the time that an ECB employee leaked that KP had returned all his trophies to the ECB office, only to have KP tweet John Etheridge that he had been lied to? Or was it that Downton just couldn’t keep his mouth shut and kept telling people like Agnew how bad it was when KP was in the team? Or maybe it was when Agnew had stuff leaked to him by the ECB. Or the fact that ECB supporting journos and former players all said the same thing like a load of repeating parrots: “Pietersen has disrupted every dressing room he has ever been in!”

    So okay for the ECB and its lackeys to leak like the proverbial sieve, but not okay for Pietersen to give his side of the story. Oh nice one aye? KP should stay silent whilst for the last 6 months and more, the ECB and its mates could totally demolish KPs reputation. Yay right!

    Then of course, what do we all know, we are the “outsiders” who have no right to question our betters. Aggers allowed to show his anger and expect everyone to bow down to him and do what he demands, but we are not allowed to say anything or ask questions? Certain journos who have acted like banshees when one has the temerity to act like Victor Meldrew: “I just don’t believe it?”

    Cricket will go on and England will become good again. However I do not think it will really enter a new “exciting era” until Clark, Downton and the rest are sent packing. Not sure how likely that is. I expect Downton has said nothing much because he has been a walking PR disaster from day one, and Clarke hasn’t been any better. Then again Clarke has been far too busy power and money grabbing to notice that England Cricket has hit the skids.

    Still I’m up for a drink any time you want to get together. I’d love to meet you all. That would be fantastic. Mine’s a white wine and Semillon Chardonnay is the best for moi. How about it? I am an old gal now but very humorous and my husband is too and we are both cricket mad. He had the honour of playing with Mike Brearley as school. Apparently Mike was good at everything and was really nice to everyone. A good egg as they say in Public Schools. So he could tell you a story or two!!!

    Cheers Maxie, James, Dmitri, Tregaskis, my friends (because they feel like friends) Emasi and Julie, and one and all!

    • Alas I will not be able to join you all for a drink.OZ is just too far away.However I shall be with you all in spirit and maybe will have a tipple or two here.Amazing isn,’t it how I feel I know you.Hope we can all continue to discuss interesting topics and we will get closure with KP.Thank you all for making my boring old life a bit more interesting.x

      • Well maybe me and my old man will come back to Oz one day. Don’t think I could do economy again. My knees won’t take it!!! Just a poor ol’ duck who can’t take pace. I should love to come back and see my family and friends out there and see more of the country and go back to Sanctuary Retreat in a small bit of the Tropical Rainforest near Mission Beach. Oooh the memories. Wonderful country and wonderful people. Cheers Julie.

    • He really is an unfortunate looking person. If you feel brave, google Giles Clarke under the images tab. The array of weird faces that he can pull is really quite impressive!

  • Clarke and Downton are to cricket what the”Septic Bladder” and the “Platini Frog” are to football.
    Self obsessed know it alls who are so far up their own backsides they their names printed on the bottom of their shoes.
    They consider themselves beyond reproach and accountable to no one and unless some member of the press persists in hounding them (how likely is that) they will continue to pretend that nothing needs doing. They are banking on England performing well at the up coming WC so that they can show everyone just how “good” they are. They are only deferring the execution. When they are forced to go it will be very interesting to see their press mates turning on them.
    Would love to stand the first round of drinks, so please let me know when you are in Beira , Mozambique and I’ll get them in.

    • Aye, the World Cup…if we get a good hiding in Sri Lanka they couldn’t possibly put it down to KP, disillusionment from the “revelations”, rebuilding (again!) following the aftermath etc etc! They possibly couldn’t stoop so low….could they????

      • and another thing…it certainly puts into context all this…dressing room this, dressing room that, and dressing room t’other! Like some bloody corporate mantra about “the vision”!!
        Only one mention, that I have heard, about “upskilling” (Groan!!) ready for the future!!

  • No surprise to see the ECB behaving like the court of Versailles. With the senior figures acting like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. “Let them eat cake” they cry at us outsiders. Be careful what you wish for ECB.

  • I love Cook’s diatribe. I remember when he gave that train smash of an interview thinking that it was worthy of a Monty Python skit. Rereading it now it sounds even more like a Python sketch.

    Have a read and imagine Eric Idle doing it. It’s hilarious.

  • Does anyone see the likeness of that picture of Giles Clarke with Rowley Birkin QC, out of TheFast Show?

    “And I was very, very drunk”

    • “I’ve known Andy since he was a player in the Essex dressing room, Cook said.

      “He took me under his wing as a player and then obviously, your relationship changes as a coach to a player and then to a head coach and a captain.”

      How lovely for them both.

    • I like one particular line:

      “That’s what happens in teams, but it certainly wasn’t a bullying environment as such.”

      Try telling your wife ‘I didn’t have sex with you sister…as such’

  • what a load of whinnying guff – we know why he was sacked and who on earth would want to share a dressing room with this self obsessed arsewipe. Face facts he is over the hill and far away

    • You wouldn’t know a fact if it punched you in the face.

      As for those who shared a dressing room with him, you mean all the crap England players who have lived off his deeds.

      Kp excelled at both test match,and 20/20 cricket. He won a World Cup and many Ashes series. And he has become a very rich man. Unlike the losers and jealous bullies who make up the England also rans.

      They can live out their days scraping a living in commentator boxes sucking up to to the ECB like the Bob Willis. God what a hypocrite Bobby Willis is. Just like his great hero Bob Dylan, he has sold out to the establishment.

    • Nobody wanted to share a dressing room with him eh? Rubbish. Stokes, Root, Tremlett, Carberry, Vaughan, Flintoff, Simon Jones have all come out and said they don’t / didn’t problem with him at all. Even his arch nemesis Swann said his attitude in Australia was exemplary. Boy you are one naive human being. Swallow everything you’re told in the tabloids?

  • From the Cook interview (quoted in the DT but not the Guardian):
    “Matty is a great man who has been a fantastic servant for English cricket. Hopefully if he can get through his really nasty injury – and who knows about that – we could see him again in an England shirt”.

    Eyes peeled for when the drip-drip-drip against Jos Buttler starts……

  • Ten days have now passed since the confidentiality agreement expired and still the ECB haven’t told us why they sacked Kevin Pietersen.

    What are they waiting for?

    The silence is their response.

    It’s clear from recent player interviews (cf Cook today – ) that the line is Pietersen is washing dirty linen in public; the rest of us are above such behaviour.

    Of course that ignores the persistent off the record briefings, leaks and character assassinations, but there is no upside to giving their public case – the non attributable poison appears to be all that they have.

    I am unwilling to take sides on Pietersen vs his detractors within the team – while I have my opinions, it’s ultimately fruitless.
    There will always be room for doubt as to who said what, and when. Individuals will remember what they saw and heard from their own perspective – and two people in the same place can have a very different understanding of what went on.

    What is unconscionable is the behaviour of the ECB as an employer of those individuals; partial, dishonest, fraught with double standards, and downright irresponsible.

    • “What is unconscionable is the behaviour of the ECB as an employer of those individuals; partial, dishonest, fraught with double standards, and downright irresponsible.”


    • It seems to me that the ECB are priming their players to do the talking for them. Now we have Alastair Cook getting in the frame to put his pennyworth forward. I notice on BBC that the interview with Cook was somewhat “edited” from the text in DT. Especially the bits where he does say that at times the dressing room was somewhat fractious and did get out of hand. No surprise there then. Just a ruse by the ECB. Using the players to offset the flak that should be winging its way to them. Get out Mr Nice Guy to persuade the public that nothing bad went on and it was all banter? It is all so sad.

  • Giles is dead right keep quiet and this nonsense will have all blown over come Jan and we can all move on and look forward to the World Cup.

  • Tarnish? Bloody tarnish!! It was the ECB’s machinations and buffoonery that has completely and utterly tarnished England cricket for years to come! Don’t they get it?
    Combine that with piss poor captaincy, and Cook’s feeble attempt to take the moral high ground, seems to me to be the only strategy the ECB can cling on to!! Utter bullshit…everything we’ve come to expect!!


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