London: Kevin Pietersen has hit out at the "horrendous" bullying of some of his former England team-mates and accused former coach Andy Flower of "ruling by fear". Despite being England's all-time leading run-scorer across all formats, the South Africa-born batsman was sensationally axed after the team's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia in 2013/14.
The England and Wales Cricket Board then gave several convoluted explanations as to why their former captain had been discarded, citing the need to "support" current skipper Alastair Cook as a central reason. In an interview with Monday's edition of the Daily Telegraph, to promote an autobiography due to be published on Thursday, Pietersen said he still did not understand why he was effectively sacked. He added that Cook had been put in an "incredibly difficult position" by the ECB, following his banishment from the team.
Despite everything Pietersen -- who has scored over 8,000 runs in 104 Tests, including 23 hundreds at an average of nearly 48, insisted he had not given up hope of representing England again even though he played no County Championship cricket for Surrey last season. "Why was I sacked? I'd love to know," he said.
Pietersen, 34, added he'd been shocked by the way senior bowlers Graeme Swann (now retired), Stuart Broad and James Anderson as well as currently injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior abused fielders for dropping catches.
"The thing that horrified me was when Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss 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 (the bowlers) had the audacity to stand there and say: 'No, if they've fucked 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? Are you perfect, are you never going to drop a catch? Are you never going to bowl a wide?'
"But the double standard for me was the bigger thing. If one of them messed up -- if Jimmy messed up, or Swanny - nothing was ever said. Prior left them alone.
"He never left alone (Nick) Compton or Ravi (Bopara) or Trotty (Jonathan Trott).
"I went after Prior and said Prior shouldn't be in that side because he's a bad influence, a negative influence -- he picks on players. He's back-stabbing, he's horrendous, he's bad for the environment."
Pietersen, denying he was an 'awkward' character, said his biggest 'offence' had been to stand up to former Zimbabwe batsman Flower.
"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."
Pietersen added he was ignored by Flower after informing him of the stress-related condition which led to fellow batsman Trott's shock exit from the Ashes tour following England's first Test defeat in Brisbane.
"The day we travel after Trotty goes home, Andy Flower comes to me and shakes my hand," said Pietersen. "He says: 'Can I shake your hand please?' I was like, what? And he says: 'Can I shake your hand?' He says: 'I should have listened to you.' And just there and then I was like, 'uchh, go away'."
As for criticising Strauss in 2012, Pietersen said he regretted called him a "doos", which he insisted was a mild insult, but that he felt "broken" after discovering that, having made a brilliant Test hundred against South Africa, the match before he was suspended, a parody 'Kevin Pietersen' Twitter account was being run "from inside our dressing room".
Pietersen also rejected accusations of selfishness. "My job in that batting order was to take risks, calculated risks, dominate the Test match so that we could be in a position where we could win the Test match. "I did pretty well to score the number of runs I did at the average I did with so many man-of-the-matches - so I'm not having this where people say, you played for yourself, you're selfish."