London: Kevin Pietersen insists his revelations of bullying in the England dressing room are his way of defending himself at last after years of “character assassination”.
Kevin Pietersen. Pic/Getty Images.
Pietersen’s former teammate Graeme Swann has described the superstar batsman’s autobiography, due to go on general sale tomorrow , as “codswallop” and “the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne”. But after citing Swann, Matt Prior and former coach Andy Flower as central forces in the culture of bullying he says he and others encountered, Pietersen is staying on the front foot.
In interviews yesterday to publicise his book KP: The Autobiography, the 34-year-old restated his dislike for Prior and his depiction in print of off-spinner Swann as “the one who picked on players” in a “dominant clique” also containing fast bowler Stuart Broad.
No one heard him
Throughout the second half of his stellar international career — brought to a halt eight months ago when he was sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board after last winter’s whitewash Ashes defeat — Pietersen claims he took his concerns to Flower, to no avail. That is why, after the end of a confidentiality clause, he is telling his side of the story - one he suggests has previously been distorted by forces at work in the ECB.
There have been many controversies, beginning when Pietersen lost the England captaincy after a disagreement with then coach Peter Moores in 2008-09 and continuing with his three-month exile from the team after a vexed summer of contract wrangles, Twitter parody and leaked text messages to opposition players about his captain Andrew Strauss in 2012.
The culmination, after a period of ‘reintegration’ which allowed him to become England’s all-time record runscorer, came when the ECB ended Pietersen’s employment in February - after which managing director Paul Downton noted the South Africa-born batsman’s ‘disinterest’ in what appears to have been his last Test in Sydney.
Pietersen said: “Since the fall-out of the captaincy, my character has been assassinated on numerous occasions (and) I’ve not been allowed to give my side of the story because of the regime we were under.
“I think it is pretty important for the public, who’ve been fed by the ECB machine so many things about me, to read this book and go ‘Okay, there is another side’. “It’s a different spin that the ECB machine are putting on me every single day. I’m not buying it. As sad as it is, it’s been a battle I’ve been fighting since Flower was coach - so I had to try to defend myself.”
Swann is unimpressed, but Pietersen points out a tweet from Ashes-winning fast bowler Chris Tremlett is more supportive. “That is an incredible tweet from somebody who was in the dressing room, who saw what was going on - and obviously Swann’s at the centre of this.
“It happened - and I wouldn’t have written this book if I didn’t think it happened. I know everything that’s in this book I can stand by 100 per cent.” Pietersen recalls fielders being routinely forced to apologise to the ‘bullies’ among England’s bowlers if they made a mistake.