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KP at peace over England axing

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Kevin Pietersen thinks England could be in for a tough Test series at home to India in the absence of Graeme Swann. Photo: Phil Noble

Kevin Pietersen is at peace his England career is over and has said the team's dressing room was not a “pleasant place” during the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia.

The 33-year-old former captain's central contract was terminated by England after the disastrous tour and the team will walk out to play their first test on Thursday, against Sri Lanka at Lord's, since the sacking of the prolific run-scorer.

“I will have no anger, no negative thoughts whatsoever when England walk out without me at Lord's on Thursday to play their first Test since the Ashes,” the South Africa-born cricketer wrote in a column for the Daily Telegraph on Monday.

“I am grateful for what I have had and moved on with my life. I have scored 13 500 international runs for England and it would be greedy to want more, so I am at peace with everything.

“I wish my friends in the England team well.”

Portrayed as a brash cricketer and frequently labelled a disruptive dressing room influence, the ECB said Pietersen was axed because captain Alastair Cook needed to be able to trust and rely on the support of all his players.

“In fact, it has been a relief to be out of the dressing room because it was not a pleasant place in Australia,” Pietersen continued. “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.”

The right-handed batsman, who scored 8 181 Test runs in 104 Tests at a 47-plus average, said media reports of his frosty relationship with coach Andy Flower were damaging.

“But my relationship with the other players was fine. We had an incredible tour on and off the field,” he said.

“I was helping all the bowlers out with their batting, and the night we lost 5-0 we were all having a drink in the bar together with our wives and girlfriends, which proves all was OK between us and still is.”

Zimbabwean Flower also stepped down following the series after five years at the helm and was replaced by Peter Moores as the England coach.

Pietersen said something like last year's back-to-back Ashes series should never happen again and his team were not ready to come and defend the urn so soon.

“It was really hard for the England team to go to Australia and defend the Ashes just weeks after winning at home,” Pietersen said.

“The senior players were tired and it soon became a really long grind against an Australian side who had their backs up in their own country.

“Australia knew they came close to winning here. The 3-0 defeat in England last year was not a true reflection of that series in terms of the way they played their cricket and we played ours, so I knew it was going to be a tight return contest and we were not equipped to handle it.”

Pietersen also picked Mitchell Johnson, who took 37 wickets in the five Tests, for special praise and lauded Australia captain Michael Clarke for handling the fiery paceman intelligently in the series.

“Johnson's bowling was the best and most aggressive I have seen during my career, and I told him so at the end of the test series when we shared a beer,” said Pietersen. – Reuters


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