Ashes 2013-14: Kevin Pietersen has 'less than zero interest' in Graeme Swann's remark about people being 'up their own backsides'
The retiring spin bowler appeared to aim a parting shot - although at exactly who is somewhat unclear
Tuesday 24 December 2013
Kevin Pietersen has “less than zero interest” in Graeme Swann's parting shot about arrogant Test cricketers.
Swann has been at pains to make it abundantly clear, having failed to do so in his retirement press conference on Sunday, that he was not referring to any of the current England team when he bemoaned the attitude of players who are "up their own backsides".
Swann's remarks were initially and widely interpreted to be aimed at Pietersen, with whom he has not always historically had the easiest relationship.
After Swann's clarification, first on Twitter and then in his Sun column, it is understood he was talking about Test opponents rather than colleagues.
Pietersen nonetheless, inevitably, faced a succession of questions about Swann's remarks when he too spoke to the press on Christmas Eve.
One query about Swann's elderly grandma's belief that "nasty" Australians have hastened the off-spinner's retirement left Pietersen especially bemused.
In answer, he spelled out his antipathy for all topics emanating from Swann's surprise decision to call time on his career in the middle of an Ashes series already lost.
"My interest levels in yesterday are less than zero," Pietersen said. "I've got no interest, no interest."
He was speaking shortly after the publication of Swann's newspaper column, in which he wrote: "I wasn't talking about Kevin Pietersen or any England player when I made comments during my retirement press conference.
"Kev and I have had a very good working relationship, and his reintegration back into the team has been spot on.
"The truth is I was talking about other players around the world who don't carry themselves in a manner I think is befitting of wearing an international shirt.
"With hindsight, I should have clarified there and then that I wasn't talking about England players, rather than leaving it hanging in the air."
For the record, Swann stressed that he believes the behaviour of Pietersen - certainly since he returned to the England fold after his contract wrangles and other controversies in 2012 - and his other former team-mates is exemplary.
"There is no way I would think any England players are up their own backsides.
"They handle themselves superbly."
Pietersen, in any case, insists that an accusation of arrogance hardly measures up to the insults he expects to come his way again from the home crowd in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
"You should come and field with me on Thursday or Friday, come and see what I get called on the boundary.
"There's a lot worse things I've been called."
Neither is he worried about former England batsman Geoff Boycott's contention that he should be dropped for batting like a "mug" so far this winter.
Where Pietersen is famed for his attacking intent, stoic opener Boycott was once dropped himself for slow scoring despite making a double-century.
"I have the greatest admiration for Geoffrey Boycott, what he achieved for England," Pietersen said.
"But I think the way Geoffrey played and the way I play are totally different."
He did manage a minor endorsement of Swann's unexpected decision to retire, with the Ashes gone and having bowled well below his best while Australia established an unassailable 3-0 lead with two Tests to play.
"Everybody makes decisions," Pietersen said. "He's a 34-year-old grown man. He's had a fantastic career for England, (and) it gives Monty Panesar an incredible opportunity to become a great bowler."
Pietersen is one year Swann's junior, but this winter's Ashes debacle has not sapped any of his resolve to carry on in pursuit of 10,000 Test runs - he has 8052 at present - and towards another Ashes and World Cup in 2015.
"I don't understand why you guys talk about everybody in the same light," he said. "I'm 33 years of age; I'm batting as well as I've ever batted.
"I'll retire when I can't get up to play for England. I'm as good as gold at the moment."
He has been more frustrated than anyone with his failure to make a significant contribution in the last three Tests.
"I've got myself in every single time," he said. "I felt like a clown in Adelaide - when I hit that ball to midwicket off Siddle - I just didn't feel good at the crease at all.
"Some days you have them. Every other time I've batted on this trip, I've felt really, really good."
In an increasingly tetchy exchange, he added: "A couple of times I've got out, and a couple of other times fortune didn't favour the brave.
"It's just a case of making sure I keep doing what I do, because it's proved successful.
"Of course it annoys me - but you guys write that it doesn't annoy me, and I'm totally cool with it!"
:: Stuart Broad was able to bowl in the MCG nets on Tuesday, for the first time since being hit on the right foot by a Mitchell Johnson yorker in Perth. England still hope the seamer will be fully fit again in time to play on Boxing Day.
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