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.