No way back for 'untrustworthy' Kevin Pietersen

Strauss and Pietersen previously enjoyed a good relationship Credit: ITV News

Andrew Strauss, England's new director of cricket, was very keen today to say that Kevin Pietersen is not banned from playing for England. So too was the English Cricket Board's new CEO Tom Harrison. I can only summise they trotted out that precise phrase on the advice of a lawyer because that is exactly what has happened here. The door is shut for Pietersen. Nailed shut.

Not because he's not good enough, Strauss admits he's world class, but because of a "massive issue of trust." Pushed on the specifics of that trust, Strauss was reluctant to elaborate, saying his job was now to look forward not back.

His stance puts him at odds with the ECB's incoming chairman Colin Graves, who told KP face to face that if he tore up his IPL contract worth US$250000, found a county and made 'Big Runs' then the slate was clean and he could be considered for selection again. That is what Pietersen has done in the misguided belief it would lead him back into the fold.

But today Strauss revealed that actually Mr Graves is on board with the decision to cast Pietersen adrift. In other words he has either changed his mind or didn't mean what he said in the first place.

Kevin Pietersen has support from many in the sport Credit: ITV News

Strauss also revealed, incredibly, that he offered the maverick batsman an advisory role to help form a strategy for England's one day cricket. I would love to have seen the look on KP's face during that part of the conversation. Strauss says it would have been an opportunity to see if the trust between them could be rebuilt. I'm not sure Pietersen would see that potential.

For all the reasoning behind Strauss's decision, and he is an intelligent, eloquent man, you can't escape the conclusion that this whole sorry saga is an abject failure of England management. What has Kevin Pietersen done or what is he possibly capable of doing that is so damaging, so unmanageable?

Kevin Pietersen has found the England firmly shut Credit: ITV News

Are the rest of England's top cricketers so sensitive they can't handle a big personality in the dressing room, even if they think he is unlikeable, arrogant or untrustworthy? And there's no evidence to suggest any of them do.

What's more if he could improve their chances of winning, which few would deny, why on earth would they want him on the outside looking in? It all feels a little bit too comfortable, a little too much of a popularity contest. Remember too cricket itself is very much an individual sport played within a team, where personal, selfish ambition can benefit all.

It is also a game that is struggling. It is losing its wider appeal and relies on personalities to ensure participation numbers hold up and tickets to top games keep selling. Kevin Pietersen, love him or loathe him, is one of those personalities and English cricket and cricket in general needs stars like him more than ever.

Sport is littered with unpopular, badly behaved talents but not many of them are exiled. A clever coach will find a way of making it all work, especially when their team isn't bursting with world class performers.

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