Kevin Pietersen claims it was “a relief” to escape the England dressing room when he was ditched from the team.
But England’s record international run-scorer insists he remains on good terms with his former colleagues, and believes the reason his old colleague Ashley Giles was overlooked for the role of head coach after the winter Ashes debacle was because of their close friendship.
There looks to be no way back for Pietersen, 33, after his central contract was terminated in February following the 5-0 Test series thrashing in Australia, in which he finished as England’s leading run-scorer but also faced criticism over his batting and his demeanour.
He says he is “grateful” for what he had with England but has “moved on”.
“In fact, it has been a relief to be out of the dressing room because it was not a pleasant place in Australia,” Pietersen wrote in a Daily Telegraph column.
“We were losing and in my opinion the environment was poor and I was not alone in thinking that. It is a view shared by a number of the players who have spoken their minds since coming back from the tour.”
He claims fellow England players found the attentions of the Australian media “a problem” and said the tourists were “not equipped to handle” the test of a tour Down Under so soon after winning the Ashes at home.
Pietersen asserts that his relationship was “fine” with fellow squad members, adding: “I have no issue with the players, as many have said in interviews since the tour ended. I speak to Stuart Broad and I even organised for Graeme Swann to go on holiday to one of my friend’s hotels after he retired.”
Having taken plenty of flak during the series, Pietersen stressed he was batting the way he knows best by consistently aiming to go on the attack.
“It would have been easy for me to start defending a bit more,” he said. “Would that have made me a better player? No. I am a risk-taker in cricket, in business and all parts of my life.”
Pietersen believes England should be heading into the summer with Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the Test team, saying it is “unbelievable” the latter has not been chosen as wicketkeeper.
He expects new coach Peter Moores, back for a second spell at the helm, to have the team’s unfailing support but had hoped former England teammate and Ashes winner Giles would get the nod.
Pietersen said: “Sadly I think he was just too close to me for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s liking. That is the problem. He had spoken too positively about me in Australia for the ECB to give him the job. It is a shame for both sides.”
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