While Peter Moores and his team were preparing for their opening warm-up match of the Caribbean tour in St Kitts, Pietersen’s latest social media row was breaking, this time the exiled batsman laying into England’s former batting coach Graham Gooch.
Gooch’s crime in Pietersen’s eyes was to give an interview in which he deigned to suggest England needed to win their three-Test series against West Indies to banish talk of you-know-who. Pietersen’s response, via Twitter, saw him call out Gooch – still England’s leading runscorer in Tests – for captaining a rebel tour of apartheid South Africa in 1982.
“Graham Gooch – you captained a rebel tour of SA, got banned & then returned to the England team. I don’t think I’ve done anything as bad!” Pietersen tweeted, perhaps forgetting his spite-ridden book released last October that was the most spectacular example of bridge burning one is likely to see. He later added that, “He [Gooch] should be saying there is always a way back!!!”
Pietersen has been given hope of an unlikely international recall by Colin Graves, the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board. Graves, speaking on 1 March, more than two months before taking office, said England “can’t ignore” Pietersen if he scores a mountain of runs in county cricket.
It is understood Pietersen has since spoken to both Graves and Tom Harrison, the ECB’s new chief executive, about a possible recall. Moores has also privately told Graves and Harrison he could work with Pietersen again despite the pair’s spectacular falling out in 2009, which saw the batsman lose his job as captain and Moores sacked in his first incarnation as coach.
In response to these positive signals, Pietersen has re-signed for Surrey this summer and committed to playing first-class cricket for the first time since in 16 months.
The prospect of a second integration remains remote but it is a possibility. It is perhaps why the 34-year-old is so touchy about the subject, his response to Gooch’s comments an overreaction in anyone’s book.
Gooch, speaking to the BBC, had said of Pietersen: “He is box office and still good enough – it is whether he has the will and appetite to go to these places and turn it on for Surrey.
“Ever since he was disposed of by England, I think him and his media team have wiped the floor with the ECB. He has won the media PR battle, his name is up in lights and he is looked at as the saviour of English cricket. We need to get our cricket right. Alastair Cook needs to lead from the front – he has had three months off and is refreshed and has been working hard.
“It is a great media story to get Kevin back in but I think if he doesn’t get a call-up he will be off to the Caribbean Premier League mid-summer.”
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