KP: The Autobiography October 8, 2014

We didn't bully, but it's not U-11s - Swann

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Was Pietersen a scapegoat?

Graeme Swann has insisted there was no bullying culture within the England dressing room, as claimed by Kevin Pietersen in his autobiography, saying that the emotion shown on the field was because the players were involved in "international sport, not the Under-11s".

In his column for the Sun, Swann said he never shouted at one of his own team-mates over a dropped catch. He acknowledged there was some truth to Pietersen's claims that Jonathan Trott had reacted angrily during a match in Bangladesh on the 2010 tour although said Pietersen had "misinterpreted" the incident.

Swann had already called Pietersen's book a "work of fiction" and the various claims "codswallop" and did not hold back in further criticism.

"There was absolutely no bullying. Sure, bowlers shout at fielders if they are out of position or not concentrating," he said. "A bowler or wicketkeeper delivers a bit of a kick up the backside - just like a goalkeeper shouts at his centre-half. This is international sport, not the Under-11s.

"If Kevin or other players can't take a bollocking for being unprofessional, for being out of position or seemingly not trying, they are in the wrong business."

However, another version of events over how errors in the field were treated came from Ajmal Shahzad, the Nottinghamshire seamer, who played for England in 2010 and 2011 and recalled feeling under pressure to apologise for errors.

"There were times when I misfielded balls, in the World Cup I dived over a ball [and] there were some senior players you just didn't want to look at," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "You knew they were disappointed and [thought it was] a bit of a disgrace ... what you'd done was really bad.

"If you did something wrong it wasn't looked kindly upon. It did feel quite bad. I remember misfielding [in Bangladesh] and didn't want to look up because you knew you were going to get these hard looks, stern looks - and it did feel a little uncomfortable.''

About the Trott incident in Bangladesh, Swann said it stemmed from a field placement and that Trott had misunderstood a signal from Matt Prior over whether he was able to dive for a ball. "So Trotty started screaming from the boundary, 'F*** off, f*** off.' There's a bit of truth in the story Kevin tells but, really, he has misinterpreted it," Swann said.

Shahzad, meanwhile, added that there was often only one route to dealing with mistakes, and encouragement when things went wrong was in short supply. "There weren't many times when someone would come up to you and say 'don't worry about it - that's sport, you have ups and downs'. It was a tough environment."

Swann was also strong in condemning Pietersen's comments about Prior, who came in for a sustained campaign in the book over his perceived role in causing dressing-room splits.

"Matt is the most passionate bloke about protecting the team environment. He was the voice of the dressing room … Now Kevin has written a whole chapter assassinating him, even having a pop at him for taking his bike to New Zealand. Kevin's attack on Matt is, dare I say it, a bit like bullying."

One of the more cryptic responses to the claims in Pietersen's book has come from Chris Tremlett, who was part of the successful 2010-11 Ashes tour as well as the more recent whitewash. "Glad @KP24 has finally been able to give his side of the story. People can now make an informed opinion of what went on in the dressing room," he posted on Twitter.

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