Kevin Pietersen angry and frustrated at snub
Kevin Pietersen feels "deeply misled" after being informed he is still not part of England's plans, despite making a resounding success of his return to county cricket
London: Kevin Pietersen feels "deeply misled" after being informed he is still not part of England's plans, despite making a resounding success of his return to county cricket.
Piers Morgan, Pietersen's celebrity confidant, has responded to new England cricket director Andrew Strauss' decision to rule out the prospect of the record-breaking batsman figuring in this Ashes summer by describing it as "vindictive... inexplicable and unjustifiable".
Pietersen, axed by the England and Wales Cricket Board last year after the whitewash Ashes defeat under Alastair Cook, acted in apparent good faith when Colin Graves - the incoming chairman of the governing body - indicated there could be a way back through a weight of first-class domestic runs.
That has not proved the case, despite Pietersen's maiden unbeaten triple-century for Surrey hours before meeting Strauss to be told a "massive trust issue" still exists between the pair.
Strauss spoke in similar terms in his time as Pietersen's England captain when, in 2012, the maverick batsman admitted sending "provocative" texts about him to opposition players from their native South Africa.
Morgan is entirely unconvinced by that, and reports Pietersen is at a low ebb after hearing what Strauss about to announce in press conferences at Lord's.
"I spoke to him briefly this morning, and he was incredibly upset," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"He's angry; he's frustrated. He feels he's been deeply misled, if not lied to, by the ECB.
"He believes he made decisions that were of huge financial cost to him - had an impact on his livelihood, his family - because he was told if he did it, and it worked, he'd be back in the England team."
Morgan questions who is the injured party, in the latest controversy to overwhelm English cricket.
He added of Pietersen: "He feels frustrated ... I wouldn't blame him if he just said 'sod this for a game of soldiers'.
"This is a guy who has scored nearly 14,000 Test runs ... fit as a fiddle, and desperate to play for his country - and we've just had 15 months of abject failure, with a useless captain and a bunch of ridiculous managing directors and coaches."
After a winter of under-achievement, which culminated in an embarrassing early exit from the World Cup, in limited-overs cricket England are no longer led by Cook - who will continue, however, as Test captain.
Strauss, who took up his new role at the weekend, has already overseen the sacking of coach Peter Moores.
Pietersen's continued exile is set to remain.
Morgan added: "It is inexplicable.
"Kevin gave up his IPL contract ... and yesterday scored his highest first-class score.
"What more is he supposed to have done?
"Andrew Strauss has come into run this team, because every other candidate - when told by the ECB 'you can't pick Kevin Pietersen' - was not prepared to take the job without the ability to choose the best and most exciting, biggest box-office star we have.
"Andrew Strauss was prepared to do that, and is trying to justify it now. To me it is completely unjustifiable."
Morgan is aghast at what he sees as an aggressive and unjust public relations campaign against his friend.
"He has been vilified and attacked by many people, and in my view grotesquely and unfairly.
"To me, it is an absolute disgrace.
"When it comes to trust, who has been misled here and who has been betrayed?
"It is personal, petty and vindictive by Andrew Strauss. It has nothing to do with cricket, nothing to do with England's cricket interests.
"It is actually going to damage our chances of being successful this summer."
He sees no prospect of a rethink.
"There is not a cat in hell's chance of Andrew Strauss ever allowing Kevin Pietersen to play for England.
"We are playing probably the most difficult period of cricket coming up now that we have faced in decades ... (and) we could literally lose almost every game, and yet we are not going to pick a guy who is currently 350 not out.
"The best player has now been told once again 'You are not going to be picked - even though you've done exactly what the ECB told you to do'.
"It's no good Andrew Strauss coming in, because he doesn't like Kevin Pietersen and there's some personal animosity there ... that he says there are these nefarious trust issues which he won't actually detail ...
"(There is this) caricature that's been allowed to build up ... at the behest and encouragement of ECB briefings that he's this vile, dysfunctional, distracting character (who) ruins dressing rooms.
"(It is) a load of sickening bile, none of which has been substantiated by fact."
Pietersen and his advisers went to significant lengths to secure a return to county cricket.
Morgan said: "If you're Kevin Pietersen, you're thinking 'what on earth is going on, and what am I now supposed to do?'
"'I've come back to play county cricket because I was told the door was open and I could now play for England again'."
The former journalist is also calling on Graves to account for the inconsistency he perceives at the ECB.
"Where is Colin Graves? I want him to explain exactly what he told Kevin Pietersen - because I know what he told him.
"I want him to say in public how he's allowed Andrew Strauss to come in and totally go against what he said.
"Frankly, if you're Kevin Pietersen, why the hell should you ... carry on auditioning for a job you've now been told yet again you're never going to get back?
"I feel offended for him, (and) angry as an England cricket fan."