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FOOTBALL Shane Warne takes swipe at England board over Kevin Pietersen

Australian says ECB should have allowed batsman to keep playing Twenty20

AFP
June 28, 2012

London: Australia great Shane Warne has said the “ego” of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) forced Kevin Pietersen’s retirement from all limited overs internationals.

Pietersen wanted to give up 50-over One Day Internationals while still playing Twenty20 internationals. However, the ECB said the South Africa-born shotmaker, who remains a Test match cricketer, could only play in both shortened formats or none at all.

As a result Pietersen, the man of the tournament when England won the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean two years ago, is set to miss the defence of their title in Sri Lanka this September.

He will also be absent from the upcoming one-day series against Australia and Warne, who captained Pietersen at county side Hampshire, said England had damaged themselves.

“Any team that hasn’t got Kevin Pietersen is significantly weaker,” Warne told the Independent. “He’s a match-winner so that’s a big loss.

“It staggers me and I’m very surprised that the ECB didn’t try and negotiate that better, drop their egos and say, okay we understand this, we want to keep our best players playing all the time.”

He added: “I think it’s just a bit too much ego for my liking from the ECB.

“Who wouldn’t want Kevin Pietersen in your side? He’s a match-winner and he puts bums on seats because people love watching him play.

“He rubs off on the rest of the players. So to me it’s a huge loss.

“People might give up more one-day cricket or they might give up Twenty20,” added the legendary leg-spinner, who contrasted Pietersen’s situation with that of Michael Clarke, the Australia captain.

“Michael Clarke’s given up Twenty20 in Australia because he can’t play all three forms at that level, but you can’t imagine Australia dropping him and saying don’t worry about one-day cricket, just stick to Tests.”

England play Australia in the first of five one-dayers at Lord’s on Friday.

Without Pietersen, an opener in limited overs cricket, England saw his spot filled by Ian Bell, who made a hundred and a fifty, and Alex Hales, who struck 99, in ODI and Twenty20 wins respectively over the West Indies in June.

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