England batsman Eoin Morgan has come out in support of his sacked and controversial colleague Kevin Pietersen, calling him a mate while refusing talks of a bullying culture in the dressing-room.
Like Pietersen, Morgan also adopted England as his home. While Pietersen flew down from South Africa to make his name and fortune with English cricket, Morgan had moved across from Ireland. Both men, dangerous middle-order batsmen, struck an immediate rapport in England's competitive cricket culture. And that is something Morgan is not ready to forget despite Pietersen creating a certain sense of acrimony with some of the country's top stars, including James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook. ('Pietersen Ouster Loss for International Cricket')
"Kevin, for me, is a guy who commands huge respect, a guy I'll always remember for the performances he put in and the experience he gave me when I first came into the side," Morgan was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "He was very welcoming and I spent a lot of time with him, learning from him. He'll always remain like that in my eyes regardless of what's come out."
Morgan, who is in Australia with the Sydney Thunders, said he has not read Pietersen's controversial 'KP: The Autobiography' but clarified that claims of bulling and an unhappy dressing-room were not true.
"Bullying? Not that I can recall," Morgan said. "I think it is [a happy dressing room], absolutely." (Gooch Rubbishes KP Allegations)
Pietersen's book had ruffled a lot of feathers with Anderson even confirming that he did not think the temperamental batsman would ever make it back to the England team. Pietersen himself agreed that his career for England was over and he has already started making his next move. The 34-year-old, who was born in Pietermaritzburg, is reportedly in talks with a domestic team in South Africa to appear in the Ram Slam Twenty20 tournament.
Swann, Cook and even former cricketers like Nasser Hussain seem to believe Pietersen was in the wrong but there are men who also feel that the mercurial batsman, with 8181 Test and 4440 ODI runs, was hard done by. Former England ODI coach Ashley Giles had called Pietersen a "million-pound asset" and KP had responded by calling him a true mate. Now, he has found more support in Morgan and maybe the world will still give England's best batsman in history the respect he deserves and commands.