Pietersen suggested that Morgan “looked scared” of Mitchell Starc’s bowling during England’s group match defeat against Australia. Writing on Twitter at the time, Pietersen said he had “not seen a captain show such weakness for a while” and that it was “a horror sign” for England.
But, on the eve of England’s first World Cup semi-final in 27 years, Morgan compared his former team-mate’s words to those of Geoffrey Boycott in saying that they “don’t take the best interest of the team or the player” into account and suggested the current England dressing room did not pay much attention to comments of the sort.
“When Kevin Pietersen comes out with a comment, it’s very similar to comments I address from Geoffrey Boycott,” Morgan told the BBC. “They are not ones that are considered good for a team environment and don’t take the best interests of the team or the player at heart. Guys are trying their heart out to do well for their country, trying to learn, trying to get better.”
Morgan did acknowledge, however, that he had struggled to deal with the short ball in the past. He was memorably forced to retire hurt having been struck by a Starc bouncer in an ODI in Manchester in 2015 – he later said his helmet “probably saved my life” – while he also accepted that it wasn’t necessarily Pietersen’s role to be constructive. In making such comments, Morgan said, the former players were merely doing “their job”.
“Possibly four years ago I was challenged in that area,” Morgan said. “Since then I’ve been challenged in different areas and, over the past two years, I’ve managed to counter that.
“And you have critics being critics. But they need to do that; that’s their job. So let them be.”