England captain Alastair Cook denied he threatened to resign if Kevin Pietersen was brought back into the England fold.
At a press conference ahead of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s on Thursday, the captain dismissed reports that he had given the England bosses an ultimatum: Him or me.
Cook managed to get through the entire conference without once mentioning Pietersen by name, but he did say:
‘There was no ultimatum. I can deny that. I don’t know quite where that came from. But over the last 15 months the story hasn’t gone away and there’s nothing we can do about it as players. The decision has been made ahead of us by [Tom] Harrison and [Andrew] Strauss. We’ve just got to focus on what’s going to be a fantastic summer of cricket.’
He added: ‘I do agree with the decision. I do. But this decision was made by those people in their new roles. They described all their reasons for that decision. We weren’t consulted and we’ve got to start looking forward now. The story has been put to bed by the ECB and the way they want English cricket to go and we’re now responsible – I’m responsible – for the team out on the field.’
Harrison, the England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, and director of cricket Strauss said they did not discuss the issue with the captain of the Test side before telling Pietersen that he was not wanted in the side. The ECB was fully aware of his feelings about Pietersen anyway and that it was clear the two cannot share a dressing room again.
Pietersen labelled the ECB ‘deceitful’, saying he had been given assurances that if he committed to county cricket and scored runs, he would be given a ‘clean slate’ and a chance of redemption after being sacked in the aftermath of a disastrous Ashes tour last year. He joined Surrey and promptly hit 355 in one innings.
Cook cannot forgive Pietersen for comments made about him. He was given several opportunities publicly to express his feelings but would only go as far as backing up Strauss’s decision and saying it was an “irrelevant question” when asked if he feels he can play with Pietersen again.