The appointment of Andrew Strauss as England’s director of cricket has put Kevin Pietersen on a tightrope once again as he attempts to get back into the national team.
The enmity between the two is well documented, with Strauss once, famously, making his views of the maverick batsman known on air when a microphone was inadvertently left switched on.
Strauss made it clear when he quit as England captain in August 2012, that he felt Pietersen was a disruptive influence on the team, which led to Pietersen being dropped for the third Test against South Africa.
Just days earlier, Pietersen, having scored a brilliant 149 in a drawn Test at Leeds had used the subsequent press conference to sound off about how little support he had in the dressing room. Strauss was rather taken aback when he arrived for his press conference to be confronted with some serious allegations.
One week later, Strauss became the third captain, after Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussein to quit in the shadow of Proteas captain Graeme Smith.
And now he is back, bigger and more powerful as England seek to recover from the disaster of the World Cup and the humiliation of a drawn Test series against a West Indies side many expected to roll over.
Pietersen, in his desperation to return to the team after being sacked in the wake of the 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia, is now playing for Surrey in the hope that weight of runs will force his selection.
In a slew of tweets in the run-up to Strauss’s appointment, KP reiterated his credentials, reminding all his followers: ‘I have over 13000 international runs! I top scored in my last series…I have 1000’s more in me for England! ‘
And in response to one fan, who mentioned Strauss’s appointment, he said: ‘Hopefully he puts personal feelings aside & does what’s right for English cricket…he has HUGE responsibility now!’
That responsibility involves finding a new coach after Peter Moores (who also fell out with Pietersen, when he was coach first time around 2009) was sacked again this weekend, and to stabilise a sinking ship ahead of a two-Test series against New Zealand, a five-Test Ashes series and a four-Test series away to South Africa.
That task may not involve the prolific batsman. As recently as April, Strauss said he felt England should move on from Pietersen. In a Lord’s podcast, he said: ‘In terms of being able to do things that other cricketers couldn’t, in the England side while I was involved he [Pietersen] was the one guy that stood out for me.’ But, he felt the ECB would be taking a step backwards if they give him an international recall. ‘It’s very important for English cricket to move on from the Kevin Pietersen situation.’
Meanwhile, England assistant coach Paul Farbrace will take charge of the England team for the upcoming Investec Test series against New Zealand.