Pietersen and Swann avoid each other after book barb


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The Independent Online

Fresh from his heroics for Somerset in the Twenty20 Champions League, Craig Kieswetter joined his England colleagues yesterday. Obviously, his team-mates were delighted to see him, but outside the squad he went virtually unnoticed. All eyes at the tourists' net practice were on Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen. It suddenly became of crucial importance to see if they were on speaking terms.

The reason was the comment in Swann's new book, to be published this week, in which he damns Pietersen's brief period as England captain. "There is no doubt that Kev is a good player, a really fine batsman, but he was never the right man to captain England," Swann says in his autobiography, The Breaks Are Off.

"Some people are better leaders, and Kev, for all his abundant talent, is not one. 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."

What everyone wanted to see, of course, was Swann bowling at Pietersen at the Ranjiv Gandhi Stadium. Would Pietersen try to make a point by launching the world's best spinner into the stratosphere, would Swann try to make a fool of one of the great attacking batsmen with a piece of drift and turn?

Ghoulish observers were to be denied. The two never came into public contact. Swann was off net work for the day because of a slight ankle twinge and will be rested from today's second and final warm-up match before the start of the one-day series against India on Friday.

Pietersen had to content himself with launching at others. He appeared to be in good spirits and is probably accustomed by now to the slights of others, even his team-mates.

Swann recalls his Test debut in Chennai in late 2008 when England lost a match they should have won on the final day with Sachin Tendulkar scoring a compelling century. He writes: "Kev ended up shouting 'Fucking bowl fucking straight' at everyone."

Nor does poor Pietersen come out of it well when Swann talks of the successor, Andrew Strauss. "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."

Kieswetter, who finished the Champions League with two fifties, has clearly put himself in the running for an Indian Premier League contract. But he appears prepared to resist any advances. "At this stage of my career I would rather be playing for Somerset," he said.