Kevin Pietersen slams Downton as England axe row continues

War of words between the two refuses to die down

London: Kevin Pietersen has blasted England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton for claiming he was uninterested during the dismal Ashes series in Australia.

Downton launched a scathing attack on former England batsman Pietersen during an interview with BBC Radio's Test Match Special on Thursday.

The ECB chief said Pietersen appeared "disinterested" and "distracted" in the fifth Test in Sydney, and that he was unable to find anyone within the England set-up who wanted the controversial 33-year-old to remain in the team.

England's thrashing in the Test series in Australia was the beginning of the end for Pietersen, who was reported to have strained relations with several members of the squad and was eventually axed in February with Downton overseeing the decision.

Until recently, the ECB's explanations for effectively ending the South Africa-born star's international career had contained only limited detail, but while Downton may have been hoping to draw a line in the sand on Thursday, Pietersen's response ensures the saga will rumble on.

"The suggestion that I was uninterested during the winter Ashes series against Australia is wholly untrue," Pietersen said in a statement.

"Although I was having injections in my knee, which inhibited my mobility and thus my ability to field close to the wicket, I was fully motivated to play for England and whilst I accept that the series as a whole fell well below my own personal standards, I finished the series as the top scorer.

"I did, and continue to have a good relationship with most of the England players."

Pietersen was criticised during the Ashes campaign for throwing his wicket away when well placed on more than one occasion and Downton touched on the issue again on Thursday.

But Pietersen was England's leading run-scorer in Australia, albeit with an average of 29.4 in 10 innings, and believes his attacking approach has served him well in the past.

"With regard to the criticisms aimed at my "the way I play type attitude", I feel it's only reasonable to remind Mr Downton that this method has brought me over 13,500 runs for England, in addition to being part of four Ashes-winning teams and a World T20-winning side, all of which achievements I am hugely proud of," Pietersen said.

Pietersen, who became England's highest ever run-scorer across all forms of cricket last year, also took issue with Downton's comments that it was the player who pushed to have his contract terminated.

"The comments regarding the cancellation of my contract should be put in perspective. It was made very clear to me that I was not being selected for the World T20 squad, and the ECB did not try to give me the remotest confidence that I would be seriously considered for selection for England again," Pietersen said.

"Had I allowed my contract to 'wind down', as the ECB proposed, I would not only have forfeited the performance-related elements that are part of the England player remuneration, but more importantly my availability as a professional cricketer would have remained under the control of the ECB for a further eight months."

( Source : AFP )
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