England's captain-coach controversy January 11, 2009

'Flintoff and I supported Pietersen' - Harmison

Cricinfo staff

Steve Harmison: "I can say without a moment's hesitation that both Fred and I supported Kevin as our captain and our leader" © Getty Images

Steve Harmison has termed as "nonsense" reports that he and other senior England players, including Andrew Flintoff and Andrew Strauss, supported sacked coach Peter Moores ahead of Kevin Pietersen. Harmison wrote in his column for the Mail on Sunday that the reported leak from team sources resulted in Pietersen's resignation as England captain and left Moores without a job.

"I can say without a moment's hesitation that both Fred [Flintoff] and I supported Kevin as our captain and our leader, Strauss has already made his backing for Kevin quite clear and any suggestion that we turned against him when Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, rang us for our views over the crisis is rubbish," said Harmison.

"The idea that we told Morris that we supported Peter Moores ahead of Kevin is nonsense. To my mind, the only people who have stabbed Kevin in the back are those who chose to leak the information that he had promised to quit the captaincy for the tour to the West Indies if Peter remained as coach."

According to Harmison, Pietersen decided to relinquish the England captaincy after "all attempts to resolve a growing problem had failed". It was a decision that could have been avoided, felt Harmison.

"We may never discover how that information then reached the public domain, but once that train was running, there was no way of stopping it," said Harmison. "Yet my belief is that had the row stayed in-house, there might still have been a chance for Morris to get Peter and Kevin together to thrash out the issue, and a hugely upsetting and damaging breakdown might have been avoided.

"Maybe if Kevin and Peter had tried one last time to find common ground in private - without the pressure of the story having been made public and everyone and his dog airing their often misinformed opinions - a different outcome might have taken place."

Harmison, who confronted Pietersen after he was dropped for the Mohali Test against India, refused to accept the notion of a dressing-room rift, with players in one camp or another. "That is exactly what I told Hugh Morris when he was canvassing opinion this week," he said.

Harmison played down the rift between Pietersen and Flintoff. "Anyone who truly believes Fred was not behind KP should have been in Mohali," he said. "Fred tried his nuts off in the first Test in Chennai, then, only a few days later in a match that was almost certain to be a draw, he was still putting the ball down the other end at 94mph in the 24th and 25th overs of the second innings. Every time Kevin asked him for another effort he gave everything, and with a supposedly weak ankle."