Kevin Pietersen Allegations Saga Rocks English Cricket
The release of Kevin Pietersen's explosive autobiography is dominating the sports agenda in England, as the country's most brash and controversial cricketer takes aim at former England teammates and management in his book.
Kevin Pietersen was made to wait eight months before having his say on the termination of his turbulent international career with England.
The wait is over - and the ramifications of his response are rocking English cricket. (Vaughan Slams ECB Charges Against Pietersen)
The sports agenda in England is being dominated by the fallout from the release of Pietersen's explosive autobiography, in which the country's most brash and controversial cricketer takes aim at former England teammates and management. (Kevin Pietersen Slams 'Bullying' Culture)
Among the most damaging of Pietersen's allegations are that a clique in the side bullied and intimidated teammates, and that his international coach, Andy Flower, ruled "by fear" and "had it in for me."
Much of the fall-out will blow over but the allegations about bullying and intimidation are serious and have been backed up by former England players Ajmal Shahzad and Michael Vaughan.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting agreed, telling The Daily Telegraph in Australia: "We saw them doing it . The guys who were doing it were the so-called leaders."
Also weighing in, unwittingly, has been the England and Wales Cricket Board, whose legal document being compiled in response to Pietersen's book was leaked into the public domain, and includes alleged misdemeanours by England's highest run-scorer during the humiliating tour of Australia last year.
That tour, in which England lost the test series 5-0, proved to be the end for Pietersen's nine-year international career - he was told in February he had no future with England as it looked to rebuild with a new ethos.
He isn't going quietly.
The South Africa-born Pietersen, England's all-time leading run-scorer in all formats, still harbors hopes of playing for his adopted country again but it is unlikely to happen.
A magnet for controversy throughout his time with England, Pietersen timed the release of his book - and his subsequent round of interviews to publicize it - to coincide with the expiry of a confidentiality clause agreed when his ECB contract was ripped up.
This week, he has been on TV and radio shows exposing the rifts with colleagues and coaches that marred the last years of his international career.
He said wicketkeeper Matt Prior and England's bowlers "ran the dressing room" and forced fielders to apologize for errors and dropped catches, which Pietersen interpreted as a bullying culture that was allowed to develop.
Graeme Swann, one of the bowlers in this alleged clique, has responded by saying "there was absolutely no bullying."
"I expected it to be the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne and that seems to have happened," Swann said of Pietersen's book.
Prior was particularly targeted by Pietersen, described as a "bad influence, a negative influence" who "picks on players." He nicknamed Prior the "Big Cheese" in the book.
Pietersen said Flower, who was his coach for England for five years, was "contagiously sour. Infectiously dour. He could walk into a room and suck all the joy out of it in five seconds. Just a mood hoover."
Of Flower, he wrote, "He had it in for me ever since he took over."
The ECB has so far chosen not to make an official comment on Pietersen's book but was drawn into the saga when its document was leaked to, and published by, cricket website ESPNcricinfo.com.
"It is simply part of a privileged legal document produced by the ECB's lawyers compiling information as part of the ECB's internal due diligence ahead of the release of the Kevin Pietersen book," the ECB said on Twitter.
The document alleged that during the Ashes tour in Australia, Pietersen broke a curfew, told a physiotherapist he would be keen to return home to rest his problematic knee if England went 3-0 down, and branded captain Alastair Cook as "weak" and "tactically inept." It also alleged Pietersen was derogatory about Flower and Swann.
Pietersen, when asked about the document which spelled Cook's first name wrong, said it was "embarrassing" for the ECB.
"It is a joke," he said. "I am done with it."