Former England captain Andrew Strauss admits he may not have handled Kevin Pietersen well during his time at the helm. The flamboyant batsman should have been given some space despite not exactly adhering to the team ethos, Strauss said on a Sky Sports podcast.
However, Strauss maintained that while he understood why the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) is necessary for players, he still does not agree that it should get precedence over Test cricket.
Strauss and Pietersen had a major fallout due to their difference of opinion on ECB’s IPL policy. “I always had sympathy with KP over the IPL. I understood what a big event it was with all the best players playing there and huge amounts of money on the table as well,” he said.
It must be mentioned that when Strauss became ECB’s Director of Cricket he created a window for England players to play in the IPL, something Pietersen had always advocated. “But I thought it was incredibly dangerous to allow players to miss Test cricket to play in the IPL. The message you’d be sending and the precedent you’d be setting was the IPL is more important than Test cricket,” he said.
Strauss said he repeatedly tried to make Pietersen aware why Test cricket is more important.
After being dropped for good in 2014-15, Pietersen had hit out at some of his teammates like Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in his autobiography, which also included criticism of Strauss for not supporting him.
In hindsight, Strauss feels he should have cut Pietersen a little slack. “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,” Strauss admitted.
Strauss said Pietersen had not exactly been a team-man but the England dressing room should have been more accepting.
“I’ve always felt a good team environment embraces difference and finds a space for everyone.
“I think we did that for large periods of time but possibly through neglect, KP became increasingly isolated,” Strauss said.