Dumped England batsman Kevin Pietersen has slammed his former team managers for allegedly allowing a culture of ‘bullying’ to develop and said coach Andy Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Prior were behind an orchestrated campaign to oust him.
In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on the launch of his autobiography, Pietersen also opened up about the ‘text-gate’ controversy over which he was dropped for exchanging disparaging messages with South Africa cricketers about former England captain Andrew Strauss.
Pietersen, 34, was sacked following the 5-0 Ashes defeat by Australia, with the governing body saying captain Alastair Cook needed to be able to trust and rely on the backing of all his players.
Pietersen, who was England’s highest run-scorer in the series and remains the fifth highest of all-time, alleged Prior and England’s bowlers “ran the dressing room” by intimidation and little was done to discourage it.
“Horrendous. Hugely disturbing,” the Telegraph quoted Pietersen on the paper’s website (www.telegraph.co.uk) late on Sunday, in reference to the alleged bullying.
“I brought it up … I brought it up on numerous occasions. I told Strauss about it, I told Cook about it. It was a huge thing.
“It was allowed to develop…. The bowlers were given so much power. They were doing really well. Swanny (former England spinner Graeme Swann) was winning game after game for us. Broady (England paceman Stuart Broad) was contributing. Jimmy (Anderson) was contributing.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board said it was “impossible” to comment.
“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 ruling body said.
Pietersen also cited bowlers’ demands for apologies if players dropped catches or made fielding errors, and Prior shouting aggressively at fielders for mistakes.
“The thing that horrified me the most was when Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss in Bangalore before the one-day internationals 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 (messed) 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.”
Pietersen detailed personal clashes with Flower, ranging from dressing room harmony to the presence of family on tour, and said the former Zimbabwe captain had long held a grudge against him.
On his exclusion from the team, Pietersen described it as a political power play between he and Prior which the batsman had lost when Flower sided with the wicketkeeper.
“(Prior’s) one bloke that quite a few (senior players) — I could count on more than one hand — have said: ‘Please can you tell the world what that guy’s like.’
“So when 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 — and I’ve questioned Flower and the way he ran the team, Flower and Cook would have said ‘you’ve got to get rid of this guy’.
“He’s back-stabbing, he’s horrendous, he’s bad for the environment.”
Prior responded to the comments on Twitter.
“Obvs sad to see the accusations against me this am 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 said.
On the text-gate scandal, Pietersen said his crime was not disagreeing with his South African colleagues’ description of Strauss as a ‘doos’.
“A doos, which is just an idiot. I regret being involved in conversations like that, and I shouldn’t have been, but mentally I was totally broken.
“Because of what had happened the previous week, where I got told by a senior player that that Twitter account was being run from inside our dressing room,” Pietersen added, referring to a parody account that poked fun of him.
“I was completely broken, absolutely finished, mentally shot.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan described the fall-out in English cricket as “very, very sad.”
“Many to blame but mostly it’s been a lack of communication and man-management,” he said.
“Won’t play for England again, so I will remember KP for what he was. A maverick who could play innings that no other England player could!”