New England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves has denied deceiving Kevin Pietersen over his prospects for an England recall and admitted that he is “saddened” to have his integrity called into question.
Despite recording his highest first-class score of his career against Leicestershire on the same day, England’s new director of cricket Andrew Strauss informed the 34-year-old on Monday that there was no way back for him in the international fold.
Pietersen subsequently claimed that Graves had stated he would be considered for a recall if he returned to county cricket after a phone conversation they held in March, describing the apparent U-turn as “incredibly deceitful”.
However, on his first official day in the job having finally succeeded Giles Clarke as chairman of the ECB, Graves addressed Pietersen’s claims head on.
“Clearly, the question of whether Kevin Pietersen will play for England again has been a debate for media and cricket fans alike,” he wrote in a blog on the ECB’s website
“I understand why people feel it’s important. So I’ll tell you what I said to the first class county chairmen, at yesterday’s AGM, and our people across the ECB this morning, on my first full day as chairman.
“In the past few days my integrity has been called into question, something I can’t accept. Throughout my business career and my years at Yorkshire, integrity has been my watchword. It governs everything I do and is an important part of what I bring to the ECB.
“So it saddens me that what was a private conversation with Kevin in March has been used to do just that. Back then, when we talked on the phone, Kevin asked if I thought his England career had ended in the right manner following the last Ashes series in Australia. I agreed that nobody particularly emerged with much credit from the whole episode, particularly given his achievements for England.
“Kevin felt he had a lot to offer and was interested in a dialogue with the ECB, sorting things out and working together. He would love to play for England again but he wanted to contribute, whether as a player or not. I didn’t make any promises. There were no guarantees that if he chose to exit his IPL contract, play county cricket and score runs he would be selected for England. And I said he should make any decision on his future on that basis.
Graves added: “I can see something has been misunderstood around the conversation and in the following debate – and perhaps how that happened. What I did stress was that when I took over as chairman I would back those people whose job it was to take decisions on team selection. I stand by that.
“Ahead of a big, busy summer of cricket, a clear decision needed to be taken. Given the history and the book, the simple fact is that bridges have still not been rebuilt and trust needs to be restored.
“That takes time – as Andrew Strauss made clear this week. Kevin was told on Monday and I completely support the decision that was taken. He may not have liked what he heard but it allowed him to look at his opportunities.
“Despite everything, he can work with us to rebuild the relationship and make a further contribution to English cricket. It was important he knew where he stood.”