Pietersen 'resigns' as England captain

Kevin Pietersen has resigned as England captain and Peter Moores has stepped down as team coach after their working relationship broke down, Sky News reported on Wednesday.

South Africa-born Pietersen had questioned Moores’s ability as a top international coach in a dispute that became public.

Officials had been keen to have the dispute between the duo resolved before the England squad travelled to the Caribbean on January 21 for their four-Test tour of the West Indies.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were unable to confirm the Sky report, although they were expected to make a public comment later on Wednesday.

Pietersen gave credence to longstanding rumours that his relationship with Moores was in trouble by telling Sunday’s News of the World newspaper: “This situation is not healthy, we have to make sure it is settled as soon as possible and certainly before we fly off to the West Indies.

“Everybody has to have the same aims and pull in the same direction for the good of the England team.”

Star batsman Pietersen apparently resigned by telephone from South Africa where he is on holiday.

The 28-year-old was not due to arrive back in England until Thursday.

It is understood the ECB board considered on Tuesday a report by Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, after the former Test batsman had spoken to both Pietersen and Moores, as well as others involved with the England team.

Shaun Udal, who has played alongside Pietersen for both Hampshire and England, told Sky News: “I am totally shocked. It’s all very, very sad.

“I don’t know what has happened but it’s obviously something Kevin feels very strong about.”

England are due to stage an Ashes series against Australia later in 2009 and Middlesex captain Udal added: “It’s a huge year and to have such turmoil just a few weeks away from going to the West Indies is far from ideal.”

Pietersen was handed the England captaincy, for all forms of cricket, in August after 2005 Ashes-winning skipper Michael Vaughan’s emotional departure as Test captain and the announcement that Paul Collingwood would not continue to lead the one-day team.

Pietersen’s first match in full charge saw England beat South Africa in the final ‘dead rubber’ Test at The Oval before overwhelming the Proteas 4-0 in the ensuing limited overs series.

However, it was a different story during a controversial week in Antigua that culminated with England being thrashed in the climax of the $20-million Stanford Super Series Twenty20 event.

Pietersen, who had minimal captaincy experience at senior level before being handed the England job, won widespread praise for his off-field work when the squad resumed their tour of India after the Mumbai terror attacks.

But on the field, England failed to defend a 387-run target during the first Test against India in Chennai.

Reports then emerged that Pietersen, whose field placements were criticised, had been unhappy with the quality of the tactical input he had received from Moores, who himself never played international cricket.

Many pundits said that in a head-to-head power struggle between the duo, only Pietersen had a chance of coming out on top.

“If you are asking me who is more important, Kevin Pietersen or Peter Moores, then there is only one winner and that’s Kevin Pietersen,” former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky last week.—AFP

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