London - England captain Alastair Cook has insisted on Wednesday he had issued no ultimatum that led to Kevin Pietersen's ongoing exile from the national side.
After Andrew Strauss, the England and Wales Cricket Board's new
director of cricket, confirmed Pietersen would remain in the
international wilderness - where the star batsman has been for some 15
months since the team's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia - reports
emerged that Cook had issued a 'him or me' ultimatum to his new players
and had threatened to resign if the South Africa-born Pietersen was
recalled to the side.
However, Cook, speaking to reporters at
Lord's on Wednesday, said the decision over Pietersen had been taken by
Strauss and new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison alone.
"There was no ultimatum. I can deny that," said Cook. "I don't know quite where that came from.
is nothing we can do about it as players. The decision has been made,
by Andrew Strauss and Tom Harrison," the opening batsman added ahead of
Thursday's first Test against New Zealand at Lord's.
But although he wasn't a party to the decision, Cook said he supported Pietersen's continuing absence from the England team.
do agree with the decision, yes," he said. "But the decision was made
by those two (Strauss and Harrison). That's what their new roles are,
and they made that very clear when they were talking to the team.
"This thing has gone on for 15 months now, and we've got to start looking forward as a side."
England's recent 1-1 series draw in the West Indies, Strauss has also
presided over the sacking of England coach Peter Moores, with assistant
coach Paul Farbrace now in caretaker charge.
"It's been an interesting two weeks," added Cook.
responsible for the team out on the field and the 10 other guys who are
going to be with me on another fantastic occasion at a great ground,"
"We've got to focus on that and all the external
stuff is now focused on other people," added Cook, one of several senior
England figures criticised in Pietersen's controversial autobiography
published last year.
"I'll let them do their job and hopefully they'll let me do mine."
for working with Farbrace, while England continue to look for a
permanent successor to Moores -- with former Australia fast bowler
turned Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie a leading candidate -- Cook said:
"It's another challenge, to have an interim coach.
"I think it's my fourth (coach) as a captain over the last two years.
"There are always challenges to deal with, and it's great to have Farby here."
told Pietersen, his predecessor as England captain, that a "massive
trust issue" prevented him being recalled for this season's home
internationals with New Zealand and Australia.
That appeared to
contradict earlier comments from new ECB chairman Colin Graves that a
return was possible if Pietersen scored enough runs in county cricket.
for Pietersen, and indeed the image of the ECB, Strauss told him he
would remain frozen out of England contention shortly after the
34-year-old had scored his maiden first-class triple century, during
Surrey's County Championship match against Leicestershire at The Oval.
currently sidelined with a calf injury, reacted angrily and he
suggested Wednesday that his ongoing omission from the side might hamper
England's search for a new coach, with Farbrace the only candidate
willing to take the job while he was still barred from the international
"He might be the only one who wants to use a team that's
not allowed to be at full strength," Pietersen, the only qualified
England player the selectors cannot pick currently, told