England end Kevin Pietersen’s international career

LONDON, (Reuters) – Kevin Pietersen’s brilliant and controversial England career is over after he was told this week that he no longer figured in plans for the future with the batsman saying he “deeply regrets” that he won’t play for his country again.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced today that Pietersen had been left out of the squad for this year’s World Twenty20 and limited overs tour of the Caribbean bringing the curtain down on an international career in which he was England’s leading run-scorer in all formats.

“Kevin Pietersen met with Paul Downton, the Managing Director England Cricket, this week and was told that the unanimous decision of the England management, including the selectors, was that now was the time to start the rebuilding process after England’s disappointing winter in Australia,” the ECB said in a statement.

The 33-year-old South-African born Pietersen, who played in 104 Test Matches, 136 One Day internationals and 37 Twenty20 Internationals for England in a almost 10-year career, was left in little doubt that he would not play for his country again.

“Everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long term planning after the Australia tour,” said Donwton.

“Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy.”

Pietersen said he was “very sad” that his international days were over but added that he would continue to play the game with the Indian Premier League a possible destination.

“Playing cricket for my country has been an honour. Every time I pulled on the England shirt was a moment of huge pride for me and that is something that will live with me forever,” he said in the statement.

“Although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I’m also hugely proud of what we, as a team, have achieved over the past nine years.

“I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer. I will continue to play but deeply regret that it won’t be for England.”

DRAMATIC IMPACT

A swashbuckling batsman, Pietersen polarised opinion, and came in for heavy criticism after England’s 5-0 Ashes surrender in Australia, which finished last month, despite being their highest run-scorer.

Pietersen’s impact on and off the field was dramatic and a year ago he completed his reintegration into the England fold after making peace with the ECB in a row over “provocative” text messages that led to him being dropped.

He even committed to playing for England in all three forms of the game until at least 2015.

However, only last month former England coach Andy Flower felt compelled to issue a statement denying a dressing-room rift.

British media had claimed Flower, who stepped down last week, had threatened to quit if Pietersen continued to be part of the team’s rebuilding process.

The mercurial Pietersen was hailed as a “million pound asset” by limited-overs coach Ashley Giles, a contender to replace Flower, when named last month in England’s provisional 30-member squad for the Twenty20 World Cup.

Yet the fallout from the woeful Ashes campaign was so stark that it was felt England needed a clean slate and that Pietersen would follow spinner Graeme Swann, who retired during the test series, and Flower out of the exit door.

“England cricket owes a debt of gratitude to Kevin who has proved to be one of the most talented and exciting players to ever represent the country and his 13,797 runs are a testimony to his immense skill,” Downton said today.

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