Pietersen's desire to escape led to rejected request

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The Independent Online

For all his renowned mental strength and self belief Kevin Pietersen must have felt the world was falling in on him yesterday. Two days after he claimed to be at the end of his tether it emerged that he had asked permission to leave England's tour of the West Indies to spend 48 hours at home. The request, made between the third and fourth Test matches, was refused.

The team's assistant coach, Andy Flower, who is leading the tour came to Pietersen's defence but it was clear that all is not well with England's best batsman. His sense of injustice at being deprived of the team captaincy in January has not diminished during the 10 weeks of this tour and might have increased with the team's failure to win.

If he has not been a brooding presence he appears to have grown increasingly aloof from many of his colleagues. As if that were not enough, Chris Gayle, the captain of the West Indies, with whom Pietersen has a cordial relationship, made some stinging remarks about him.

When Pietersen was forced to leave the field with a back spasm yesterday during the fourth one-day international against the West Indies, failing to complete the over he was bowling, the feeling grew that for the moment he is a man apart.

Pietersen gave what proved to be an ill-judged newspaper interview last week in which he said: "It's been a heck of a tough time and I'm at the end of my tether now. Really and truly I can't wait to get home."

Any disaffection might have grown because of the rejection of his request to return to England for 48 hours between the third Test in Antigua and the fourth in Barbados. His wife Jessica was a competitor in the television show, Dancing On Ice.

Gayle responded harshly to comments Pietersen made during his wide-ranging newspaper interview about the West Indies' star batsman, Shiv Chanderpaul. Pietersen said that Chanderpaul's absence from the field after big innings "leads me to think he plays for himself."

Gayle, losing his normal cool, said: "He has no right to make these sorts of comments. Whatever issues he had, he should have kept to himself. We're all big men, but there's no need to go to that level and degrade other players." He has told Pietersen that he is disappointed in him.

Flower recognized that there were issues but insisted that Pietersen was doing everything in his power to win and was training as hard as anyone. Speaking about the state of Pietersen's tether before the news leaked of his holiday application Flower said on BBC Radio Five Live: "He didn't say he didn't want to play. What he meant, I believe, is that he wants to get home and see his family. Sometimes in his downtime he gets a bit homesick like everyone, but this isn't a bad place to be – we all appreciate how lucky we are as international cricketers and he's no different in that regard." He does not entirely appreciate his fortune at present.

l England have confirmed that they are considering playing a floodlit Test match at Lord's against Bangladesh next summer.