Salisbury JournalPietersen set to formalise exit (From Salisbury Journal)

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Pietersen set to formalise exit

Salisbury Journal: The decision to axe Kevin Pietersen has divided opinion The decision to axe Kevin Pietersen has divided opinion

Kevin Pietersen and England must quickly embrace a future apart after the abrupt and controversial severing of their ties.

The formal ending of Pietersen's England and Wales Cricket Board central contract is understood to be imminent, once legal details have been agreed by both parties.

Pietersen then will be open to offers at next week's Indian Premier League auction for a full campaign, something he has apparently long-craved but several times been denied by circumstance.

Kings XI Punjab have already been publicly salivating over the prospect of signing him for an entire seven-and-a-half weeks.

For England, the brave new world managing director Paul Downton, captain Alastair Cook and others have engineered will dawn with the baton handed to coach Ashley Giles and Twenty20 leader Stuart Broad on tour in the West Indies and then a 'World Cup' in Bangladesh.

By then, the clamour for answers from the ECB about precisely what Pietersen did so wrong in Australia - apart from being unable to arrest England's slide to an embarrassing 5-0 Ashes whitewash - may have died down.

First, though, both player and his adopted country must contend with much rampant speculation - a situation which has already convinced Pietersen's wife, among others, of the need to have their voice heard.

Jessica Taylor sprung to her husband's defence after suggestions that Pietersen and his former captain Cook 'squared up' in Sydney while England were descending to their fifth and final trouncing.

She rebuked Sky Sports pundit Dominic Cork over his understanding of how badly Pietersen and Cook's working relationship suffered in Australia this winter.

Mrs Pietersen, and former England captain Michael Vaughan, both took issue on Wednesday with Cork's depiction of a "dust-up" between captain and senior batsman as tempers were lost.

"Dominic Cork - there was no 'squaring up' to Alastair Cook or 'off-field antics' in Australia - you are lying, plain & simple," wrote Pietersen's wife.

"Regurgitating rumour and spinning it as fact is not what I'd call responsible journalism. The public deserve so much better - the truth."

Vaughan responded in similar tone, acknowledging there were bound to be raised emotions during England's miserable Ashes campaign but questioning the situation escalated as has been reported.

"With the way England were playing I am sure players had lots of strong debate in the Dressing Room," said Vaughan.

"But squaring up??? #Nonsense."

England batting coach Graham Gooch was, potentially, a first-hand witness but insists he saw nothing untoward.

Asked if he could shed any light on Cook and Pietersen's reported disagreements, he said: "I can't. We were busy in the nets a lot. We had a lot of work to do as coaches."

It is a matter of personal regret that all the work came to so little, Gooch admitting everyone must take "responsibility" and resist the temptation to "look for scapegoats".

As for his own relationship with England's all-time record runscorer, he added: "I'm not about to tell you about my confidential relationships with Ian Bell, Alastair Cook - what I talk about with their play - so I'm not going to do that about Kevin Pietersen either."

The bombshell that at 33 Pietersen has played his last match for England has reverberated around the world, and the mercurial South Africa-born batsman's former Ashes adversary Shane Warne duly made his thoughts clear.

"I also just heard the sad news re KP that he has played his last game for England, to me it's a disgrace & a joke! The ECB is in a shambles," Warne tweeted.

Pietersen posted a picture of his final Test on Instagram, and added the words: "So sad that this will now be the last time I leave a field in an England shirt... Incredibly overwhelmed by the support overnight! Thank you so much..

"I love England and I honestly hope they have every success in the future.."

Sir Ian Botham joined an apparent chorus of disapproval for the ECB's management of the crisis, calling for the governing body to publish details of Pietersen's perceived indiscretions.

Former England captain Botham told Sky Sports News: "He is one of the best cricketers this country has ever had - and if his career has been terminated, why not tell us why?

"Don't give us the one-liner - 'we're moving on, we're doing this, we're doing that'. He's 33, not 43.

"I do believe the ECB need to come out and lay their cards on the table, explain their decision ... I think the cricketing public deserve that."

It is unlikely they will get it, other than in dribs and drabs of eye-witness accounts which might yet be legally permissible in years to come.

Before then, Pietersen insists he has plenty of cricket left in him.

It will almost certainly involve a string of lucrative appearances in Twenty20 domestic leagues around the world, starting of course in India this spring - and may even mean he can lend a hand for Surrey in the English summer from time to time.

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