England news October 10, 2011

KP 'never the right man to captain England' - Swann

ESPNcricinfo staff

Graeme Swann believes Kevin Pietersen is not a natural captain and has claimed the batsman was never the right man to lead England. Swann, who captained England himself in the Twenty20s against West Indies last month, suggested that Andrew Strauss's calm leadership style has been central to England's success.

Pietersen was named England captain in August 2008, but his tenure lasted just five months after a much-publicised spat with then-coach Peter Moores. Strauss then took up the role and his harmonious partnership with Andy Flower has seen England crowned the world's No. 1 Test team.

In his new book, The Breaks are Off, Swann claims Pietersen does not command respect in the same way as the more reserved Strauss.

"There is no doubt that Kev is a good player, a really fine batsman, but he was never the right man to captain England in my opinion," Swann said. "Some people are better leaders of men, and Kev, for all his abundant talent is not one of those natural leaders.

"I wouldn't say he was a useless captain, but he wasn't my sort of captain, and we've ended up with the right man. I can't really work out why Strauss demands respect, but he does. I've known him for a long time but there is a line I won't cross with him that I will cross with anyone else. It's the sign of a good leader. I'm in awe of the way he speaks.

"He always seems to press the right buttons with me and says exactly what I'm thinking. He's to the point and meaningful and I'd be really upset with myself if he ever felt it necessary to dress me down."

In the absence of injured captain Stuart Broad, Swann was handed the chance to captain England for the Twenty20 internationals against West Indies. While he may have a reputation as a joker, the spinner insisted he enjoyed the responsibility of captaincy.

"It was nice to shape a game," Swann told The Times. "I've said before that I've captained in my head every game I've ever played before but this was different. I enjoyed the responsibility of making decisions. It pandered to my enjoyment of being the centre of attention, too."

Swann insisted, however, that he holds no real captaincy aspirations of his own, and that the current men in charge have what it takes to do the job well. "Broady will mature into a very good captain; Cookie's doing a great job, and having expressed my man-love for Strauss throughout my book, you'll know that I hold him in the highest regard. It would be a brave man to suggest he should not be captain of England for a good while yet."

England play their second warm-up game on Tuesday though Swann is doubtful to play due to an ankle niggle.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Darren on October 12, 2011, 11:29 GMT

    Find it unusual that Swann highlights Kev's weakness as a leader, yet doesn't understand that exactly the same weakness is in himself.

    If I were playing for Swanny as captain, I'd find him much more unsuitable than Kev.

    And I'm no KP fan!

  • Dummy4 on October 11, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    @AlanHarrison - surely you're not suggesting that KP falls out with everyone? No, no, no. Only everyone in Nottingham. And Hampshire. And South Africa...

  • Alan on October 11, 2011, 10:58 GMT

    @ Trickster and Optic: To suggest KP "was misquoted" is a tired excuse celebrities often use (what is to stop Swann saying that this report misquotes him or the media has "put a spin on his words"?) and in this case I don't buy it. KP was trying to suggest he did England a favour by getting rid of Moores. In a sense KP is a senior player, but in another sense you have to say Swann is the senior player 'for their nation' (which is the assertion I was disputing) since he was part of the English game when Pietersen was still a wannabe South African test player. This report could cause friction, but only if one thinks that friction is always likely with Pietersen because he has a proven record of falling out with people (remember also the swearing at Geoff Miller on Twitter, Sept 2010). Myself however, I hope and believe KP has grown up a little, and think there's nothing for him to object to here: like Puffin, I believe some great players (e.g., KP) just don't make good captains

  • John on October 11, 2011, 1:52 GMT

    I like Swann and I generally find what he has to say interesting. You can't please all of the people all of the time and, while there are many, myself included, who are sick of the formulaic statements offered by sportsman, there are also those who will be annoyed by Swann's slightly more "from the heart" responses. If we aren't hearing what the player thinks then what's the point of hearing what they're saying? That said, I can't help thinking that now is not really the time for this book or these statements. Swann still has some years ahead as an international cricketer and a book from him would be more valuable then. While I agree that KP as England captain is not a great idea, I'm not sure that it is a great idea for a current player to put it in a book right now. Whether he's arrogant or sensitive, I can see this bothering KP. How many journos do you think will now ask him "what do you think of Swann's book"? That's not going to help anyone.

  • Andrew on October 11, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost - agreed, although tour diaries are good reads. @ YorkshirePudding - its a bit like some lame band putting out a greatest hits album after 2 or 3 albums! @allblue - agree 100% about the first bit. == == == Probably not the brightest thing Swanny has said, but thats the great thing about him media-wise - you never know what's going to come out of his mouth. I'd hate to see the day when asked about KP, Swanny says "KP is a great batsmen, it was special playing cricket with him, & we're just focussed on the next game!"

  • paul on October 10, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    @AlanHarrison What does Swann getting selected way back when have to do with anything, he didn't play a Test till 2008 and is obviously the less experienced member of the 2. Who's blaming anyone as you put it, this is about Swann's book, criticizing a team mate that obviously took along time to get over that course of events and who seems to finally be getting back to his best, all for money reasons,what need is there for it, why rock the boat when it's heading in such a good direction, I bet Flower won't be exactly impressed with it either. If this was the other way round and KP had wrote a book and criticized a member of the team or Swann himself for that matter, he would get torn to shreds by all and sundry.

  • GARY on October 10, 2011, 21:06 GMT

    @AlanHarrison As far as your point about KP trying to 'pass his sacking as captain off as him falling on his sword for the good of the team', is not what he said at the time even though that's how the media tried to paint it, he said he didn't think that under his leadership and Moore's they would have achieved what they have and I think most people that were around the team at the time, thought Moore's had been promoted above his pay grade. The fact is there's no need for it,not while he's still playing also apart from anything else Swann played a whole 2 games under KP's Captaincy and for another they are in the team together now which could cause a whole load of friction in the team and between the 2 players just because Swann wanted to earn a few quid on what is a 3 year international career.

  • Robert on October 10, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    Swann is wired up completely different to most other humans - so do you pick a captain to help the special needs player or one for the other nine normal players?

  • Keith on October 10, 2011, 21:01 GMT

    Look, there's been enough great players who turn out to be lousy captains (Botham for starters) so even if Swann is partly right, then KP should not feel too bad about that. Not everyone is cut out to be a captain, but then not everyone is KP or Botham.

  • Baundule on October 10, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    KP is probably a bit overdose for the English team.

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