Retired England player Craig Kieswetter reveals disunity in England team
Craig Kieswetter, who was thought of as one of the best English batsmen of the present generation before a horrific eye injury sustained during a county match brought a premature end to his career, has talked about the divisive dressing room atmosphere prevailing in the English team - also throwing some light on Kevin Pietersen's strife with the ECB.
"It wasn't just us competing against the opposition," Kieswetter said.
"There was a sense that some of us were competing against one another. There were jokes made in the dressing room if you had a South African background. When we warmed up in training, we were split into sides: South Africans v English.”
Kieswetter was part of a strong southern African-born contingent in the England team, which also included coach Andy Flower.
“It created an unnecessary divide. A sense of them and us. And it grew worse. The Test guys hung out with each other; the limited-overs guys hung out.”
Kieswetter also said that the pressure put on the players by the country's cricket board did not help to improve the team spirit.
"Players were exhausted and asking for time off, but would be told they couldn't have a central contract if they dropped out of one format. They were terrified to miss a game in case it counted against them and they lost their place." - the eventual fate of one Kevin Pietersen.
Could never have been the same player I once was: Kieswetter
Kieswetter became the second youngest England batsman to score an ODI century, six weeks before his man of the match performance in the World Twenty20 final in Barbados against Australia.
Kieswetter, whose career reads like a tragedy of the highest order, having retired at the age of 26, laments the loss of the England team spirit from his earliest days of international cricket - when England won the World T20 Cup in 2010.
"Of all the England teams I played in over five years, that was the one that had the best spirit, KP was at his best. So were Broad and Swann. But we were a proper team and everyone got on brilliantly.
"By the time we were No1 in the world, it was a very different dressing room. Success changed people. Cliques developed."
“I know I can't play at the level I want to," he said on the reason for his retirement, which baffled and saddened the cricketing world earlier this month.
"I liked being a swashbuckling player. And I felt I had the talent to play for England. I don't feel that way anymore. I'm not the same player. I'm not as good as I want to be and I never can be.
“There are too many mediocre players in county cricket - and good luck to them - but I don't want to be another one.”