KP: The Autobiography October 6, 2014

KP book 'a work of fiction' - Swann

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Pietersen takes aim at Flower and Prior

Graeme Swann dismissed Kevin Pietersen's autobiography as "a work of fiction" as the backlash began against one of the most controversial books in cricket history.

"I expected it to be the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne and that seems to have happened," Swann said.

Swann's criticism came at Lord's at the NatWest OSCAs, which recognise service in grassroots cricket, and they brought much laughter from an audience which seemed well in tune with the ECB's version of history.

Matt Prior has been one of the players to come in for the fiercest criticism in KP: The Autobiography. Pietersen claims Prior played a key part in instilling a feeling of fear and bullying among the England team alongside former coach Andy Flower, who also comes in for withering appraisal.

"The one thing will say. I immediately realised it was codswallop when I read the character assassination of Matt Prior," said Swann. "Tragically I don't think Kev realises the one person who fought tooth and nail to keep him in the side is the one person he is now assassinating: Matt Prior.

"Kevin has been quite clever because the guys still playing he has left alone and he hopes to get back in again one day," Swann said. "He has picked on people who he thinks can't answer back."

He dismissed Pietersen's repeated insistence that there was a culture of bullying in the England dressing room.

"If that was the case a lot of people would have flagged it up before. We had a magnificent team ethos and team spirit until Mitchell Johnson took his blindfold off and then it all fell apart.

"It was strange to watch my team-mates this summer, all those people I'd bullied all those years. I'd have loved to have been out there giving them Chinese burns."

A more serious assessment was made by Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket and the prime instigator in Pietersen's removal. "What I do know is there's been no formal or informal complaint about bullying," he said.

Prior has promised to answer the accusations Pietersen has made against him in his autobiography, saying it is "sad" to hear the former England batsman call him a "bad influence" and question his team ethic.

The attack by Pietersen, repeatedly referring to Prior by his "Big Cheese" nickname during a chapter dedicated to the subject, is among the most damning ever made by one player about another.

Prior, who was recalled to the Test team at the start of the summer before withdrawing due to his worsening Achilles injury, took to Twitter to acknowledge he was aware of the claims, attempted a touch of humour and then added he would have his "right to reply" when the time was right.

"After this morning, I'm looking forward to reading the full kp book. Might bully my kids into getting it for me for Xmas!!''

"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.''

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph shortly before the book became available, Pietersen said he had made his feelings about Prior known and in the book itself says that the image of him as the ultimate team man is not the truth.

"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.

"It's only Prior that I'd seriously have real issues with, because of how he was portrayed as a team man, the heart and soul of the dressing room, when he was getting up to the stuff he was getting up to. And the two sides of the coin where I was the bad guy and doing everything wrong."

Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, said that Pietersen's claims revealed the extent of the team's breakdown in Australia. In particular, he agreed with Pietersen's assessment that players being abused for fielding errors indicated a lack of respect between team-mates.

"It really tells you a lot about team spirit," he said, "always there when you're winning but always fades away when you're losing.

"A lot of the stuff I've read this afternoon, I've nodded at and agreed with ... about shouting at players in the outfield. Team spirit is about respect ... what happened in the end was that the respect had gone, between Kevin and his team-mates.

"Once you lose that respect, and then start losing games of cricket, I'm afraid the wheels can only come off."

The ECB has declined to comment as yet, either about Monday's interview or the autobiography itself, on the basis that the governing body had not received an advance copy.

A spokesman said on Monday morning: "The ECB has still not received the book, despite requests to the publishers - and until we see it, it is going to be very difficult to comment on anything in it."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • liz1558 on October 10, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    The problem with bullying is that the bullies generally don't realize that they are doing it, and are shocked or incredulous when they're accused of it. It's always a bit of fun, light-hearted, not really being serious, didn't mean anything by it etc. The people who know what it's like are the ones on the end of it. It wouldn't be surprising if this occurred; it would explain the reactions of the accused.

  • dummy4fb on October 9, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    @dutchy on (October 9, 2014, 1:30 GMT):

    Rod Marsh-Kim Hughes L'affair & they playing together 'seamlessly' is an interesting comparison. How abut Shane Warne's personal equation not only with a couple of his captains, but also with some of his senior colleagues. The friendly looking banter which kept on going (on and on) while fielding in the slips with Gilchrist and others was a 'pleasure' to watch :-)

  • on October 9, 2014, 5:18 GMT

    Among English players, I only enjoyed watching Botham then Flintoff and then KP. These are all similar guys, in a way very 'non-English'. I am certain that all things written in this book cannot be completely true. However, the fact is that he lost faith in the guys he played with for so long. He is known to get along with players across countries. So I don't think its KP's problem alone. ECB needs to introspect. It may take an official line like "we have not received advanced copy" We have not received formal complaints" etc. but in only England we see cases like Trescothik and Trott. If every thing is truly that calm and harmonious inside the dressing room, why do English players feel stressed much more than any other country? We don't even know of young talent which might have faded away because of such issues. It is always easy to put the blame squarely on one person, but ECB must take overall responsibility and corrective action.

  • dutchy on October 9, 2014, 1:30 GMT

    This reminds me of the good old days in Australian cricket when Rod Marsh would slag off Kim Hughes in a book every summer! They were playing together too!

  • Charlie101 on October 8, 2014, 14:17 GMT

    as one poster said the supporters of KP believe the book is the truth and the ECB supporters believe it is fiction. I would guess like all arguments there is a case on both sides and it is not black and white.

    1. There had to be friction in the dressing room because certain players such as Nick Compton did not fit in - Trott's reaction in Bangladesh plus even the Test Match Special commentators picking up on the bowlers reactions to dropped catches. The KP twitter account existed for a reason ( no one liked KP )

    The question for me is did KP overreact to the above when he should have been playing cricket and concentrating on his game and my guess is that he did.

    What I find strange is the Matt Prior attack because if the bowlers were shouting at the fielders who made mistakes then Prior on the Ashes series would have been bombarded constantly . MP is still popular with the players so I have to believe it was all in KP's head - tragic really as we have lost a fine player

  • JG2704 on October 8, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    @tamperbay on (October 7, 2014, 22:31 GMT) I think people within the set up talked about the fact that they wanted to build a legacy and not that they were there. The team's record/form from when Flower took over to when they lost in UAE for the first time was exceptional but since that time it has been flaky. Even the win in India doesn't seem that great now as I reckon India just don't have it in them these days to play long test series

  • tamperbay on October 7, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    I agree with @dunger.bob! A big part of the problem was that the England team thought they were much better than they actually were, so the fall was harder when they were smashed by Australia last year, and it splintered the team.

    They always talk about this team winning 4 ashes series. But only 1 of those did they win convincingly, the other 3 were very closely run, and on home soil.

    So the real error was the delusion of greatness.

  • Fredo_H89 on October 7, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    Mostly reminds me of the Alan Partridge "autobiography", I wonder how many time he says "needless to say, I had the last laugh". Should've been called "I Pietersen: We Need To Talk About Kevin".

  • markatnotts on October 7, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    As predicted, a few people blindly defending KP and taking everything he says as fact. All I will state here are a few facts:

    1 - Prior has spent all his career at Sussex and I can't recall hearing anything about him being a disruptive influence. 2 - KP has played at Notts, Hants, and latterly Surrey. Trouble certainly seemed to find him very easily at Notts, and Hants, hence he moved.

  • JG2704 on October 7, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    I know Prior was a huge part in getting KP reinstated in the side so it seems sad how the relationship soured The one thing I will say about Swann is he has no KP agenda and said he had no prob with KP in Australia However my guess is that alot of the heavy stuff either happened after Swann left the tour or when Swann was not around. Playing devil's advocate it could even be that Prior played on the fact that he was instrumental in getting KP back in and felt HE could treat KP how he liked ...

    Interesting - as already pointed out - that KP is slating players who , if he was recalled would not likely be around. The reality is that he won't be recalled anyway regardless of personality clashes. He has only played one format since he was sacked and has by and large been poor and ineffective in that format. Why would any side recall a player who has in the meantime shown no form and no real hunger to give the selectors a reason to have him back in the side

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