Cricket: 'Rebuilding' ECB end Pietersen's England career

LONDON (AFP) - Kevin Pietersen's controversial England career came to a dramatic end after officials announced Tuesday they "unanimously" wanted to rebuild the side without him following their Ashes thrashing in Australia.

In a joint statement with the 33-year-old former England captain, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced they had left the gifted batsman out of their squads for both the upcoming one-day tour of the West Indies and the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and that this meant the end of his international career.

"Playing cricket for my country has been an honour," said Pietersen. "Although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I'm also hugely proud of what we, as a team, have achieved over the past nine years.

"I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer. I will continue to play but deeply regret that it won't be for England."

Newly-appointed ECB managing director Paul Downton, who only recently oversaw the departure of England coach Andy Flower following the Ashes thrashing, hinted the need to restore team harmony, rather than playing ability, had been the key reason behind Pietersen's exit.

Pietersen's nine-year international career saw him establish himself as one of the world's leading batsmen, his 23 Test hundreds, just two short of the England record held by current England captain Alastair Cook, coming amidst a Test tally of 8,181 runs at an impressive average of 47.28 in 104 matches.

But the South Africa-born shotmaker's time in the England camp was also beset by off-field problems that saw him fall out with two national team coaches in Peter Moores and Flower, who stepped down from his post on Friday.

Significantly, Pietersen was briefly dropped from the England team in 2012 after sending text messages alleged to be critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss to South African players.