London: England wicketkeeper Matt Prior on Monday pledged to respond to former international team-mate Kevin Pietersen's claims that he was "back-stabbing" and a "bad influence" on the team. Pietersen made the accusations in an explosive interview with British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published on Monday, ahead of the release of his autobiography on Thursday.
The South Africa-born batsman, axed by England earlier this year, claimed there had been a "bullying" culture under former head coach Andy Flower, but saved his most stinging criticism for Prior. Responding on Twitter, Prior wrote: "Obvs (obviously) sad to see the accusations against me this am (morning) and I WILL have my right of reply!
However today is not the day and Twitter is not the place for it! "Now back to my Achilles rehab and learning to walk again! have a great day everyone." He also joked: "After this morning, I'm looking forward to reading the full kp book. Might bully my kids into getting it for me for Xmas!!" Pietersen claimed that Prior was the ringleader of a group including senior bowlers Graeme Swann, now retired, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, who would lay into their team-mates for dropping catches.
"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," Pietersen told the Telegraph. "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." - Fall-out saddens Vaughan - Former England captain Michael Vaughan, Pietersen's skipper when he made his Test debut in 2005, was saddened by the turn of events.
"Find all the fall out in English Cricket very very sad...Many to blame but mostly it's been a lack of communication and Man Management....," Vaughan told his Twitter followers. "Won't play for England again. So I will remember @KP24 for what he was. A maverick who could play innings that no other England player could.!" Meanwhile ex-England all-rounder Dominic Cork said suggestions Pietersen had been the victim of bullying were wide of the mark.
"He was the person who had his own seat on the bus, and no one else could sit on that seat because that was Kevin's seat," Cork told talkSPORT radio. "He wants to put out this story because he feels the way he was treated was unjust. "Andy Flower took England to number one in the world so he did something right. There was a clash of personalities, they didn't get on, so this is about getting back at Flower."
Meanwhile Mike Gatting, England's Ashes-winning captain on their 1986/87 tour of Australia and subsequently a coach and senior administrator, said it was important to keep Pietersen's comments in perspective. "I'm sure for the first couple of weeks there will be lots of 'he said, she said' and all that ... I'm sure we'll all listen and have a wry smile, because there's always two sides to the coin," Gatting told Sky Sports.
"The book is a bit of history...We've got to look forward. We saw some wonderful stuff (this season) from the young (England) cricketers who have come through." Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it was "impossible" for it to comment on Pietersen's claims prior to the publication of his book. "We have not had an opportunity to see the book yet as the publishers have declined to provide us with a copy before the official release date," the ECB explained.