Former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss has revealed that he made some mistakes in the handling of former teammate Kevin Pietersen.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Strauss, who made a 100 Test appearances for England, for the first time opened up about the conflict and drama that ignited around himself and Pietersen in 2012.
Pietersen was dropped from the English Test team after the ‘Textgate’ row that ensued during South Africa’s tour to England that year.
The right-hander had texted some of the Proteas players during the series to express his disgust at the way Strauss was leading the team. South Africa subsequently won the series 2-0 and subsequently beat England to the new world No-1 ranking in the Test format.
‘I probably didn’t do enough work with KP,’ said Strauss, who was England’s director of cricket between 2015-18 before resigning to spend time with his wife, who passed away from cancer a few months later.
‘There came a time when some of the people he was close with in the team retired or got dropped. There was an opportunity there, not necessarily to bring him in, but spend a lot more time with him and make sure his views were valued and considered.
‘I think instead I just let KP be KP. In retrospect, that was a mistake and might have sowed the seeds for what was to come down the track.’
The conflict between the two players have been in the public domain for a number of years already, with Pietersen more than once stating he feels treated unfairly by Strauss and then coach Andy Flower during that period.
“I probably didn’t do enough work with KP. In retrospect, that was a mistake & might have sowed the seeds for what was to come”
Sir Andrew Strauss on Kevin Pietersen https://t.co/ZzQjpJtBVJ
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) April 4, 2020
Pietersen was involved in England’s humiliating Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2013-14 and would never play for his country again after being completely dropped from the national set-up under Alastair Cook’s captaincy.
He also expressed fallouts with other teammates such as Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, who were all part of the team that went to Australia.
‘I don’t think he would have been in the engine room of the team in that sense, but I’ve always felt a good team environment embraces difference and finds a space for everyone,’ Strauss continued.
‘I think we did that for large periods of time but possibly through neglect, KP became increasingly isolated. Often KP wanted to be the guy who was slightly separate from the team. On any given day it didn’t feel like an issue but over time it became an issue.
‘Would I do things massively differently if I had my time again? Probably not. The worst thing you can do for players like KP is to straitjacket them and say, “You have to abide by x, y and z. You can’t go and play in a flamboyant way, you have to grind it out like Jonathan Trott.”‘
Strauss was appointed captain of the team in 2009 when a then already public story unfolded with Pietersen and former coach Peter Moores.
Pietersen captained the team on three occasions prior to Strauss’ appointment, before he announced his resignation from the role, while Moores was fired as coach as a result.
‘Effectively you’d be asking him to be someone he’s not, so you had to cut him some slack and allow him to be himself. At times, though, what worked for KP almost undermined what the team was trying to do. It felt like there were two completely separate agendas there and that became a problem for me, the rest of the team and [then head coach] Andy Flower.
‘We were all tired, emotional and had spent so much time in each other’s pockets. Probably if we had a bit more space to think clearly it might not have got to that stage and we might have managed it better.
‘But I don’t look back and think, “We were wrong to call KP out over some of the things he did.” I think we had to do that,’ said Strauss.