Alastair Cook has revealed that he and Kevin Pietersen have not spoken since the latter’s sacking as an England player.
In an interview with the BBC’s Test Match Special, broadcast at lunch on the first day at The Oval, Cook also said he had originally wanted to leave the door open for Pietersen’s return.
But he also admitted he was relieved when Andrew Strauss was appointed director of England cricket and ended the uncertainty that had hung over Pietersen’s future under Paul Downton.
Pietersen was sacked after the 2013/14 Ashes tour, with Cook taking a lot of criticism for the decision. Though there was speculation about a possible return, Strauss ruled that out when he took over as director of cricket.
“It was the toughest time of my career and there’s no doubt that it was affected my batting,” Cook said. “The day when Straussy came out and said Kevin wasn’t going to play for us anymore, that was a massive weight off my shoulders.
“I was involved in the decision at first, but the England captain doesn’t have the final say on hiring and firing. I agreed with it, but I said ‘why don’t we give him some time off, we can go away and maybe KP can come back later on’.
“Paul Downton wanted clarity, a clean break, because people would always be asking when is he coming back. You had to back his decisions because that’s what his job was. The fallout was pretty nasty and I don’t think the ECB handled it well or appreciated how social media worked very well then. I bore a lot of the brunt of it. I suppose that’s what being captain is.
“I would refute anyone saying that I was the one that chucked him down the stairs, but I was involved in the decision and I believed it was right at that time. What could have happened a year later, I don’t know. Looking back, I can safely say all the decisions I made were done for the best of the England cricket team at that time. On that one, there were a lot of other people, way above my head, also involved in it. I felt like I was being left alone as the captain.”
Cook was honest but cautiously optimistic about his relationship with Pietersen.
“I haven’t spoken to him since that day. But I think time is a great healer. We spent a lot of time together and created some amazing memories.
“The thing is, we never fell out. Since then, the internet has fallen out for us. As two blokes, if you take cricket out of it, we have never fallen out.”