England looked like having to decide between keeping Kevin Pietersen as captain or Peter Moores as coach after the star batsman called for an end to the duo’s “unhealthy” relationship.
The News of the World — the Sunday tabloid in which Pietersen has a column — said there appeared “little prospect” of the pair working together on the upcoming tour of the West Indies, where England will look to gather momentum ahead of their bid to reclaim the Ashes later this year.
It added there had been a “complete breakdown in what was an already fraught relationship” and said attempts by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) managing director Hugh Morris to broker a peace deal between Pietersen and Moores now had an “impossible” chance of success.
Pietersen, who broke off from a holiday in his native South Africa to hold talks with Morris on Saturday, stopped short of calling for Moores’ sacking.
But the 28-year-old said: “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.”
Contrary to earlier reports, the paper said the exclusion of former England captain Michael Vaughan from the West Indies squad was not the cause of Pietersen’s bust-up with Moores, insisting the pair had already fallen out.
Former England captain David Gower believes Pietersen will win the power struggle.
“It’s a bit of a mess, but I’ve got a feeling Kevin Pietersen will get his way,” Gower told BBC Radio. “I think they [the ECB] are going to have to go with their captain because their captain is a mightily important figure in what happens this year and over the next few years. I think they are going to have to back their captain.”
Another former captain, Alec Stewart, warned the issue needed clearing up, telling his Sunday Mirror column that “a united front is paramount so that there is no chance of a split within the camp.”
Australia bowling legend Glenn McGrath meanwhile told the BBC: “There’s got to be a balance there, I think you need coach and captain working together and then you’ll have a really strong team.”
Pietersen took over as captain following Vaughan’s tearful resignation during August’s home series loss to South Africa.
He won widespread admiration for the way he recently led England, who lost the series 1-0, back to India for a two-Test tour that risked being abandoned because of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Moores is on a one-year rolling contract and any attempt to sack him could cost the ECB as much as £250,000 (US$363,000) and leave them scrambling to find a new coach days before England arrive in the Caribbean on Jan. 21 for a four-Test tour.
A “dressing-room source” told the News of the World: “There is no way Pietersen and Moores can work together, they’re just too far apart. The ECB are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they back KP [Pietersen], then there’s massive problems among the backroom staff. But if they go with the coach, then the best player becomes disillusioned, they possibly lose a captain and there is a huge fracture.”
Moores, given a chance by Saturday’s Sun, the News of the World’s daily sister paper, to play down his row with Pietersen, said: “I hope you understand that I can’t really comment at this stage.”