Kevin Pietersen takes fresh aim against his old enemy Andrew Strauss

Kevin Pietersen has reignited his old battle with his former captain Andrew Strauss in his support for the current beleaguered captain Joe Root.

“I feel dreadfully sorry for Joe Root. He’s captaining a form of the game that Strauss & co ruined in 2015! Test Cricket should be the pinnacle but Strauss/Morgan are somehow the hero’s..? Like I keep saying, the system is broken & so are the journos who are discrediting Joe!There’s a much bigger picture here too. Joe is captaining players for longer periods of time under the most strictest bubbles. The pressure in Tests mentally is way more,” Pietersen tweeted.

Pietersen vs Strauss saga dates back to 2012 Test series against South Africa, when Pietersen, who had already lost his captaincy after run-ins with England Cricket Board, had sent text messages to South African players that allegedly insulted Strauss. Pietersen was dropped after the “Text-gate’ scandal and though he was later reintegrated into the side, his career slowly grinned to a halt after the 2013-14 Ashes which England lost 0-5 under Alastair Cook.

Last April, in a podcast of Sky Sports, Strauss admitted he had made a “mistake” in handling Pietersen, while also laying his side of the story.

“I probably didn’t do enough work with KP. 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,” Strauss said. “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.”

In his autobiography in 2014, Pietersen had alleged that there was a bullying culture within the team. He had alleged that the wicket-keeper Matt Prior and seniors like James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann would force team-mates to apologise for misfields and dropped catches during matches. His claims were denied by Prior and Swann.

Graeme Smith, former South Africa’s captain, had jumped in defence of Pietersen. “Having played against them we always used to say if we could get a win or get ahead, that they would turn on each other. A lot of the stuff that he’s touched on in his book, the bullying stuff, you certainly did experience some of it when you played against them and you knew you could use it as an asset to get on the other side of them.”

In his version, last year, Strauss talked about how Pietersen had slowly started to drift away from his team-mates. “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 had felt that Pietersen’s way had undermined the team. “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.”

One of the contentious issues was Pietersen’s involvement in the IPL. He wanted to play but Strauss thought it interfered with England’s cricketing schedule.
“But I thought it was incredibly dangerous to allows players to miss Test cricket to play in the IPL. The message you’d be sending and the precedent you’d be setting is that the IPL is more important than Test cricket. I was saying to KP at the time, ‘listen, mate, this is the situation. You can’t opt in or out of international cricket. You’ve got obligations to England and hopefully there are gaps where you can play in the IPL as well’,” Strauss said.

The old wounds hasn’t healed clearly, with Pietersen firing fresh salvos now.

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