England news June 9, 2014

Pietersen 'relieved' at England exit

ESPNcricinfo staff

As England prepare to start their summer of Test cricket on Thursday, Kevin Pietersen has said that he is relieved to be out of the England dressing-room, claiming the "environment was poor" during England's shambolic Ashes winter.

He also said that, contrary to some things that have been written, in particular the suggestion from England's managing director Paul Downton that he was "disengaged", his relationship with team-mates "was fine".

Pietersen was dropped for good by England's selectors after the series, a decision which continues to divide the cricket public, but in his first ghosted column with the Telegraph he said he, at least, had "moved on with my life".

"I am at peace with everything. It took only a couple of conversations with my family to start thinking this way because of how much I really did not enjoy the winter.

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

Pietersen was highly critical of the ECB agreement to play back-to-back Ashes series to avoid a clash with the 2015 World Cup which he argued added to an onerous schedule which proved too much for England's exhausted players.

"As soon as we arrived the Australian media turned the heat up on us. I have had that for years so it did not bother me. It was fun. But for other players you could sense it was a problem. The senior players were tired and it soon became a really long grind against an Australian side that had their backs up in their own country."

He said that he believed that by the end of the series England coach Andy Flower wanted him out. "After the Sydney Test, a headline came out claiming Flower had said to the ECB it was either "him or me". Pietersen added: "He denied saying that but the damage was done."

While reports of unrest within the team circulated widely, Pietersen said that was not the case. "We had an incredible tour on and off the field. 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.

"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."

He said he had now moved on and was not wishing he was part of the side at Lord's this week. "Could I play more Test cricket? Yes of course, but should I sit here thinking I should be playing on Thursday? No, because that is when jealousy and negative thoughts come into your head."

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