Success changed England - Kieswetter
Craig Kieswetter has described the England team he played in as divided by cliques and changed by success. In an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo, Kieswetter also explained his decision to retire following an eye injury and his frustration with his own England career.
But it is his views on the England dressing room that will gain most attention. While Kieswetter stopped short of repeating Kevin Pietersen's claims of bullying in the England environment, he does not paint a flattering picture.
Though he says he came into a united dressing room in early 2010, he believes that winning the World T20 and then the Ashes in Australia "changed people".
"It wasn't just us competing against the opposition," Kieswetter said. "There was a sense that some of us were competing against one another. By the time we were No. 1 in the world, it was a very different dressing room. Success changed people. Cliques developed. There were jokes made in the dressing room if you had a South African background. When we warmed up in training, we were split into sides: South Africans v English.
"There was lots of talk about it in the media and here we were making it worse. It created an unnecessary divide. A sense of them and us.
"It grew worse. The Test players were together so much that, when the limited-overs players turned up, it felt like you were on the outside. The Test guys hung out with each other; the limited-overs guys hung out. The spirit I experienced in those first few weeks was never there again."
Those "first few weeks" saw Kieswetter become the second youngest England player, after David Gower, to make an ODI century and win the Man-of-the-Match award in the 2010 World T20 final. But while he started out playing with rare freedom, he feels that prolonged exposure to the England environment left him feeling "caged" as a batsman.
"Of all the England teams I played in over five years, that was the one that had the best spirit," he said. "To be honest, I don't remember it that clearly: we played golf, we went to the beach and we drank rum. Training tended to be optional. KP was at his best. So were Broad and Swann. But we were a proper team and everyone got on brilliantly.
"I started out playing with freedom; I ended up caged. I guess if I was in the current set-up I would thrive, but I had a good record as an opener and they asked me to bat at No. 6. It's tough, but I'm disappointed with the way I responded to it."
Kieswetter also explained his decision to retire from cricket following a blow to the eye sustained while batting against David Willey. "I know I can't play at the level I want to," Kieswetter explains. "I liked being a swashbuckling player. And I felt I had the talent to play for England. I don't feel that way any more. I'm not the same player. I'm not as good as I want to be and I never can be.
"I can still play. I can still be okay. But when I came back at the end of last season, there was a lot of bravado and adrenalin involved. In the end I just thought, there are too many mediocre players in county cricket - and good luck to them - but I don't want to be another one."
Read the full interview here