KP 'friendless' in England camp
Former captain Michael Atherton believes that Kevin Pietersen was "friendless" in the England dressing room as the storm over his international exile continues to rumble on.
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Pietersen's England career was brought to an end on Tuesday after he was omitted from the squad for the tour of the Caribbean and the ICC World Twenty20 with the batsman himself confirming he would not play for England again.
The decision prompted a storm of criticism with many calling on the England and Wales Cricket Board to explain its decision and on Sunday night it released a statement citing a lack of trust in the 33-year-old.
Pietersen has a history of clashing with authority figures in the England set-up.
He successfully lobbied in January 2009 for the removal of then coach Peter Moores, costing him his own position as captain, and almost saw his international career end in 2012 after sending derogatory text messages about then captain Andrew Strauss to members of the touring South Africa team.
There were also rumours that a parody Twitter account of Pietersen had been set up by someone within the team, a claim that was always denied, and Atherton, who played within an England dressing room for 12 years, believes that the many issues surrounding Pietersen should have been dealt with better by the players.
"The issue is one of the role of the captain and the senior players, the first of whom ought to be the most important man in the dressing room and and the others who should help to set standards on and off the field," he wrote in The Times.
"Whether Pietersen's relationship with all of them was sour has been disputed, but there remains little doubt that he was fundamentally friendless in a group comprising James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and Alastair Cook.
"Pietersen's supporters would refer to the fake Twitter account in the summer of 2012 as an example of what might be called playground bullying, and that this helped to push him farther to the outside.
"Cliques are often part of sporting dressing rooms because, inevitably, some players get on better with each other socially than with others.
"It is inevitable, perhaps, but cliques can be just as damaging, say, as a prima donna player who charts his own path.
"That kind of behaviour from the senior players suggests weakness, so just how strong were the captain and the leadership group as the tour descended into the kind of infighting that has been reported?"