Alastair Cook played a role in Kevin Pietersen's sacking from international cricket in 2014.
Cook, about to call time on his own record-breaking career after his 161st Test at the Oval this week, admits the breakdown of relations between Pietersen and England went on to have a detrimental effect on his own batting.
Cook was captain in 2014 when Pietersen was sacked after a miserably unsuccessful and acrimonious Ashes winter.
A year later he was witness to England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss‘ final decision that there was no way back into the fold for the exiled batsman.
Cook has been vilified in some quarters for his perceived role in the saga.
But he insists that – although he was relieved when Strauss made the call – his own instinct previously was to suggest a cooling-off period of six months before Pietersen’s international career finished for good.
That did not happen, but nonetheless Cook still hopes he and Pietersen could yet be reconciled in the future.
He told the BBC‘s Test Match Special: “I haven’t spoken to him since that day, but I think time is a great healer.
“We spent a lot of time together and created some amazing memories.”
In fact, Cook revealed, there were never any cross words between the former team-mates face to face.
“The thing is, we never fell out,” Cook added.
“Since then, the internet has fallen out for us.
“As two blokes, if you take cricket out of it, we have never fallen out.
“He will have a different opinion, I’m sure.”
Cook has come to the conclusion the ECB could have handled the situation better – and hinted he was not portrayed especially fairly.
“I was involved in the decision at first, but the England captain doesn’t have the final say on hiring and firing,” Cook said.
“I agreed with it, but I said, ‘Why don’t we give him some time off, we can go away and maybe KP can come back later on?’
“(Strauss’ predecessor) Paul Downton wanted clarity, a clean break – because people would always be asking when is he coming back.
“You had to back his decisions, because that’s what his job was.
“The fall-out was pretty nasty, and I don’t think the ECB handled it well or appreciated how social media worked very well then.
“It was the toughest time of my career, and there’s no doubt it affected my batting.
“The day when Straussy came out and said Kevin wasn’t going to play for us any more, that was a massive weight off my shoulders.”
That does not necessarily mean, however, Cook is truly comfortable these days with the outcome or how it was achieved.
“I bore a lot of the brunt of it – I suppose that’s what being captain is… I will always be associated with (it),” Cook said.
“I would refute anyone saying that I was the one that chucked him down the stairs, but I was involved in the decision and I believed it was right at that time.
“Looking back, I can safely say all the decisions I made were done for the best of the England cricket team at that time.
“On that one, there were a lot of other people, way above my head, also involved in it.
“I felt like I was being left alone as the captain.”