England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores have both resigned.
Pietersen, who was appointed skipper of the Test and One-Day teams last year after Michael Vaughan resigned, had fallen out with Moores over the running of the team and told British media on Sunday that ‘it had to be sorted out’.
The England and Wales Cricket Board held an emergency teleconference for their executive board on Tuesday to discuss the rift and Pietersen, who is on holiday in South Africa after the recent Test series in India, was reported to have resigned following that discussion.
Pietersen and Moores, who was appointed coach in April 2007 following the resignation of Keith Fletcher, also discussed the situation with English cricket’s managing director Hugh Morris last week.
Speculation in the British media has suggested that the rift intensified after Vaughan was not selected for next month’s test series against the West Indies.
England face the West Indies again, at home, in May and then play the Twenty20 World Cup before taking on Australia for the Ashes.
Opening batsman Andrew Strauss is the strong favourite to take over the Test captaincy but, with Strauss not involved in the One-Day squad, there is no obvious candidate for the limited overs job.
Moores’ assistant Andy Flower is likely to be offered the interim coaching role for the West Indies tour. ‘It’s a huge shock and doesn’t bode well for the ECB,’ former captain Bob Willis said.
‘It’s a right mess and the last thing England cricket needs in the run-up to the Ashes.’
South Africa-born Pietersen, 28, took over from Vaughan for the final Test of last year’s losing series against South Africa and made an immediate impact by winning the match and then overseeing a clean sweep of victories in the One-Day series.
Despite losing all the One-Dayers in India, he won widespread support for his role in England’s decision to return to the country to play their two-test series in December after the bombings in Mumbai.
England lost one and drew the second match of the two-Test series.
But England were humiliated when they took on the Stanford Superstars – effectively the West Indies team – in the $20m winner takes all match in Antigua.
The Superstars won by 10 wickets and there was much acrimony about the whole event.
Pietersen, who has an English mother, moved to England in 2000 and switched his international allegiance after saying he was frustrated with the positive discrimination policy in South African cricket.
He soon established himself as one of the most destructive and exciting batsmen in the game, playing a key role in the Ashes success over Australia in 2005.
It is not clear yet whether he intends to continue to make himself available to England as a player.