Former England spinner Graeme Swann has backed Kevin Pietersen to have an international future after the batsman’s place in the side was put in question.
Swann has also denied he was talking about Pietersen when he criticised players for thinking they are bigger than the game.
Swann quit in the middle of England’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia, but has told The Sun Pietersen should remain involved. “England’s short-term future should include Pietersen,” said Swann.
“People seem keen to create a rift between Kevin and the rest of the team. Among the more ludicrous stories was one claiming he did not go to the team’s Christmas lunch.
“I know he did – because I sat next to him. Since being reintegrated in 2012, his attitude has been great. He was England’s top run scorer in the Ashes and is one of the world’s best players, so why get rid of him?”
Swann also revealed he had not been referring to Pietersen when he criticised players when he retired last month.
“At my retirement press conference, I made some comments about certain players being ‘up their own backsides’, but I wasn’t having a go at Kevin or any other England player,” he said.
Australia captain Michael Clarke suspected that Alastair Cook and his England team-mates were ready to go home after a tour that saw Jonathan Trott quit the Ashes due to depression, and Swann hang up his spikes. But he shied away from suggesting they would be permanently scarred by their winter defeats.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” he said.
“There will be a few English players keen to get on that plane tomorrow that’s for sure – and keen to get away and spend some time away from the game.
“I know what it feels like to lose a series as a captain. It’s certainly tough and you take it to heart and you take it quite personally.
“I’m sure Cookie will be looking forward to getting home and having a break. They’re a good team and he’s a good player. I’ve no doubt that the next time we come up against England they will be as tough as always.
“That’s the one thing I do know. They’re always tough in any form of the game. If you take them lightly they’ll run over you.”