Cook reveals deep regrets over ugly Pietersen axing
ALASTAIR Cook has described the aftermath from the Kevin Pietersen saga as the lowest point of his Test career, while reaffirming he was not the man who decided to sever ties between England and the right-hander.
Pietersen's international career was brought to an unceremonious end after the 2013-14 Ashes, with the England Cricket Board saying it was time to "rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy".
A year earlier Pietersen had been suspended for exchanging text messages with the South African team about then-captain Andrew Strauss, and England's factional dressing room had been a terse place since his recall.
Although Pietersen never played for England again, the saga hung around the team in the years to come, with his explosive autobiography, disparaging remarks from the ECB and Strauss, and a run of indifferent results for the team fuelling the fire.
"Clearly the KP affair was a tough year, there's absolutely no doubt about that," Cook said on Wednesday.
"I was involved in that decision (the axing of Pietersen) without being the bloke that actually made the final decision.
"Obviously the fallout for English cricket and the effect it had for 12 months wasn't great.
"I think it could have been handled differently.
"I think the moment Andrew Strauss came on board (as director of cricket in 2015) and he came out and said he made the decision, for me personally that was the best thing that could have happened.
"I have regret over because it wasn't great for English cricket.
"The game at the end of the Sri Lanka series (which England lost 1-0) and the game at Lords (which England lost to India), that period there was probably the lowest I was."
Despite the fallout and calls for Cook to stand down as leader of the side, the 33-year-old explained it was not a thought that crossed his mind and that the series victories that followed were vindication for his decision not to give up the captaincy.
"I still thought I was the best man for the job and the right man to be captain at that time," he explained. "It wasn't easy. I could have taken the easy option but I didn't. That was when it was real tough but I didn't throw the towel in.
"I got the - that sounds selfish - the team got the reward winning the 2015 Ashes, which was just brilliant."
Pietersen took to Twitter to congratulate Cook on his career on Tuesday.