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Pietersen blasts former teammates, coach for bullying

London, Oct 6 (IANS) Former England captain Kevin Pietersen Monday launched a scathing attack on his ex-teammates and former coach Andy Flower, accusing some of them of “horrendous” bullying within the team.

Pietersen blasted his former teammates in an interview to The Telegraph after his confidentiality clause with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) expired Sunday night. The 34-year-old was discarded from the team by the ECB in January.

The batsman, talking before the release of his autobiography, was particularly critical of wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who he described as “a negative influence” in the team.

The Delhi Daredevils batsman accused Prior of leading an orchestrated bullying campaign along with bowlers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, where these men forced fielders to apologise for dropping a catch off their bowling.

“Horrendous. Hugely disturbing,” Pietersen said of the alleged bullying.

“The thing that horrified me the most was when Andy Flower and (former captain) Andrew Strauss in Bangalore before the One-Day Internationals (ODI) said: ‘Guys we’ve got to stop this, it’s not right for the team, there are guys that have come to (us) that are intimidated to field the ball.’

“And they (the bowlers) had the audacity to stand there and say: ‘No, if they’ve f****** up we deserve an apology. It’s the most angry I ever got in that dressing room. I thought, I reckon I could hit these guys. Who do you think you are to ask for an apology from someone who’s trying his heart out, who’s playing for his country, who’s making a mistake?

“Are you perfect, are you never going to drop a catch? Are you never going to bowl a wide? Are you never even going to make a mistake? But the double standard for me was the bigger thing. If one of them messed up – if Jimmy messed up, or Swanny messed up – nothing was ever said. Prior left them alone.”

The outspoken batsman said he had no issues with Anderson and Broad but Prior’s alleged hypocrisy angered him.

“I saw Jimmy (Anderson) on finals day and I was absolutely fine with Jimmy. I’d be fine with Broad. It’s only Prior that I’d seriously have real issues with because of how he was portrayed as a teamman, the heart and soul of the dressing room when he was getting up to the stuff he was getting up to. And the two sides of the coin where I was the bad guy and doing everything wrong,” Pietersen said.

“Then he wanted to start a media campaign to stop me getting the vice-captaincy because Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan were talking favourably about me being Alastair Cook?s deputy. That’s what I took him up on in January when I got sacked. ‘I’ve just been rung by two players in Australia who’ve been told by somebody in the ECB that you tried to start a media campaign against me.’

“Is that seriously the heart and soul of the dressing room? This big team player? He doesn’t have a central contract now. They’ve got rid of him. And a lot of people are very happy,” Pietersen said of Prior.

The South Africa-born batsman added that Flower hated his unwillingness to be ‘scared’ of the coach. “I’ve been one of the only ones who’ve constantly through his reign as coach not said ‘how high?’ when he said ‘jump’.

“He built a regime, he didn’t build a team. I’ve told him this before. I told him during his coaching reign. I told him on numerous occasions: ‘You’re playing by fear here, you want guys to be scared of you. And Andy I’m not scared of you.’ And he hated it,” the right-hander said.

“He was just very lucky to have players who matured into great players. Anybody could have coached that side, like the great Australian side. Is John Buchanan a great coach? I’ve heard otherwise. My grandmother could have coached that Australia side. My son could have coached our side, two-three years ago,” he concluded.

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