Kevin Pietersen: Graeme Swann left 'baffled' by enforced international retirement of star batsman after 'exceptional' tour Down Under

Swann admits he was not Pietersen's biggest fan after the 2012 Textgate scandal but says his opinion was changed after his improvement in his attitude during the ill-fated tour of Australia

Graeme Swann admits he was “baffled” by England's decision to dump Kevin Pietersen and says he witnessed nothing on the Australia tour to indicate why the superstar batsman has been cast aside now.

Pietersen's international career was effectively brought to a close on Tuesday night when he was omitted from the upcoming tour of the Caribbean and ICC World Twenty20, with the 33-year-old all but conceding in a joint statement that it was the end of the line for him with England.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's decision has come in for plenty of criticism, with many pundits and ex-players also calling for an explanation as to why the country's record runscorer across all formats will no longer be part of the team.

Swann, who retired from all cricket midway through England's nightmare tour Down Under, is unable to shed any light on the matter either and admits he cannot understand why Pietersen has been jettisoned now, after seeing what he felt was an improved attitude from the controversial batsman since his 'reintegration' back into the squad.

Pietersen was dropped from the side in the summer of 2012 after sending provocative text messages about then captain Andrew Strauss to South African players.

Writing in his column in The Sun, Swann said: "I'll be honest about Kevin Pietersen - myself and several other England players were not exactly members of his fan club during the Textgate scandal of 2012.

"But I changed my opinion of him once he was reintegrated back into the England team towards the end of that year.

"He made a huge effort to improve his attitude around the dressing room. I saw or heard no issues with him in Australia this winter, his approach was exceptional.

"That's why I was baffled on Tuesday when he was effectively sacked as an England player."

The former spinner added: "Looking back, I could understand if Kevin's career with England had finished after Textgate. But to go through the reintegration process and then, just 15 months later, discard him for good seems very strange.

"Clearly, Kevin must have upset people enough for the England hierarchy to decide he is no longer wanted. Don't forget we're not talking about a middling player here - we're talking about a batsman of sublime talent.

"As I say, I saw nothing while I was on the Ashes tour. His approach was spot-on.

"Until the powers that be shed some light on the situation we are left only with conjecture and rumour.

"I'm sure every cricket fan would like to know more detail because Kevin is the player more than any other who puts bums on seats.

"Let's hear the truth so all the speculation disappears."

PA

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