Pietersen rejects Boycott criticism
A prickly Kevin Pietersen rejects critics calls to retire and says he is batting as well as he ever has despite failing to fire so far for England in the Ashes.PT2M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zvx3 620 349 December 24, 2013
England are edging closer to self-destruction after the fallout from Graeme Swann's sensational exit interview plunged their unhappy Ashes campaign from disarray into farce on Monday.
Facing a fourth consecutive defeat and potentially another embarrassing Ashes whitewash on Australian soil, England's tour reached a new low after Swann dropped a bombshell with comments that were interpreted as a dig at his former teammates.
Swann's remarks triggered talk of dissension among the ranks and sparked a Twitter row with former captain Michael Vaughan.
Letting loose: Graeme Swann arrives at a press conference to announce his retirement. He has since sparked controversy with an apparent criticism of teammates. Photo: Getty Images
Having already surrendered the urn, had a senior player return home and a stalwart retire mid-tour, England's turmoil is now rivalling the soap opera that was Australian cricket earlier this year, consigning their Ashes success only four months ago to a long and distant memory.
"This tour for England was already a disaster ... Now it's a bloody joke ...," Vaughan tweeted to his near 500,000 followers.
The latest controversy to dog England's tour started with an interview Swann gave to the English press in which he said: "Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are.
Twitter row: Michael Vaughan, left, pictured with Shane Warne. Photo: Getty Images
"It will bite them on the arse one day and, when it does, I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on."
The comments appeared to be a thinly veiled swipe at Kevin Pietersen, whose leadership Swann criticised in his 2011 autobiography after an ill-fated tenure as captain.
Pietersen has been horribly out of form this tour and attracted widespread criticism for the cavalier nature of his dismissals.
Spin cycle: Monty Panesar is back in England's side. Photo: Getty Images
Swann's remarks were reported by some British media outlets as being about players inside the England dressing room, though the spinner denied they were directed at any individual in particular.
Although Vaughan did not disagree with Swann's sentiments, he was unhappy with the timing of the outburst, taking to Twitter to criticise the retired spinner.
"So @Swannyg66 says some England players heads are up their own Arse???? Which ones exactly??" Vaughan tweeted. "As a respected senior player in the dressing room @Swannyg66 .. Why didn't you sort players out who got too big for themselves ??
"I agree with @Swannyg66 that some players are getting ahead of themselves but I don't think he should have said it the day after retiring..."
Swann responded to Vaughan on Twitter by writing: "@MichaelVaughan don't jump to conclusions Vaughney. I wasn't talking about the England dressing room or anyone in it. You too bbc". The tweet was later deleted.
Vaughan, however, was not swayed, telling Swann he had erred.
"We all make mistakes @Swannyg66 .. I make plenty ... I am afraid on this occasion you have made one ..." Vaughan wrote.
Monty Panesar, Swann's on-field replacement, said he was unaware to whom his fellow spinner was alluding. He even suggested Swann's angst was driven by a local football team back home. But that seems unlikely.
Swann is a diehard fan of English Premier League club Newcastle United, who beat Manchester United earlier this month and are sixth and in contention for European honours next season.
Panesar said the team remained fully behind Swann's decision to retire. "Swanny knows [who] he's referring to, but in terms of the dressing room and the teammates we're right behind him," Panesar said.
"We loved him to bits when he played with us, he had great character and his sense of humour was good. We all back him as a team."
Panesar denied the tour had become a "joke" as Vaughan suggested. "We still have two Test matches to show our hunger and determination of the way of cricket we want to play," Panesar said. "Come the Boxing Day Test match we want to put a very good performance in and try and show some fight and character.
"We're a very hungry and determined dressing room to make the most of our next two Test matches."