sport

KP: England omission a relief

Kevin Pietersen claims it was "a relief" to escape the England dressing room when he was dumped from the team.

Pietersen says he is still on good terms with his former team-mates, and he believes Ashley Giles missed out on the head coach job because of their friendship.

And Pietersen, writing in his column in the Daily Telegraph, says England have got their selection for the first Test with Sri Lanka wrong.

Pietersen's central contract with the ECB was terminated in February following the humiliating 5-0 Ashes series defeat in Australia. He was England's leading run-scorer but also faced criticism over his shot selection and his demeanour in the dressing room.

Pietersen wrote: "In fact, it has been a relief to be out of the dressing room because it was not a pleasant place in Australia.

"We were losing and in my opinion the environment was poor and I was not alone in thinking that. It is a view shared by a number of the players who have spoken their minds since coming back from the tour."

Pietersen insists that his relationship with his former team-mates is "fine."

"I have no issue with the players, as many have said in interviews since the tour ended. I speak to Stuart Broad and I even organised for Graeme Swann to go on holiday to one of my friend's hotels after he retired," he said.

Risk-taker

Pietersen was regularly accused of batting too aggressively in Australia, instead of digging in.

But he wrote: "It would have been easy for me to start defending a bit more. Would that have made me a better player? No. I am a risk-taker in cricket, in business and all parts of my life."

The first Test of the 2014 summer begins on Thursday at Lord's as England take on Sri Lanka. The selectors have called up three uncapped players in Moeen Ali, Sam Robson and Chris Jordan, but Pietersen says there should have been a fourth in wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

The selectors instead recalled Matt Prior, dropped in Australia after a poor run with the bat. And Pietersen says Ben Stokes should also be playing in the opener, despite the fact the Durham all-rounder has only just returned from injury.

"I don't understand why Ben Stokes isn't playing....he strikes me as one of those players who can rise to the occasion," he wrote. And on Buttler's omission he added: "I find it unbelievable that we have started the summer with Buttler not an automatic choice for England's Test side....I look at Buttler at it reminds me of when I started my Test career. People said I was not the finished article and did not think I was ready for Test cricket.

"But when you find someone like Buttler with the X-factor then you must give them a chance...he rings me for advice about certain bits and pieces he wants to learn. He phoned me recently to ask about how to play Lasith Malinga's yorkers and it is a great sign he wants to take on board as much as possible."

He expects new coach Peter Moores, back for a second spell, to have the team's support but had hoped former England team-mate Giles would be given the job.

Pietersen said: "Sadly I think he was just too close to me for the England and Wales Cricket Board's liking. That is the problem. He had spoken too positively about me in Australia for the ECB to give him the job. It is a shame for both sides."