Kevin Pietersen Attacks Andy Flower And Matt Prior

Andy Flower, the former England coach, and wicketkeeper Matt Prior have come in for the fiercest criticism in an early taste of what Kevin Pietersen has to say in his autobiography.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the paper to which he is signed as a columnist, Pietersen said Flower built up a culture of "fear" within the dressing room and that Prior was a "bad influence".

He claims that he was the only player who would challenge Flower's authority and also said that he warned the coach about the problems Jonathan Trott was having at the start of last year's Ashes tour which led to him returning home and not playing international cricket since.

However, the early signs are that Pietersen will not be too harsh on Alastair Cook after saying he was put "in an incredibly difficult situation" by the ECB and claims Cook was "fed" information about him in Australia ahead of the decision to sack him which was taken by Paul Downton in February.

It was widely expected that Flower would figure highly among Pietersen's targets and in his first interview of the week he said. "I've been one of the only ones who've constantly through his reign as coach not said 'how high?' when he said 'jump'. He built a regime, he didn't build a team. I've told him this before.

"I told him during his coaching reign. I told him on numerous occasions: 'You're playing by fear here, you want guys to be scared of you. And Andy I'm not scared of you.' And he hated it. He had it in for me since I tried to get rid of him as second in command. He collected stamps. It was stamp after stamp after stamp, until he thought: 'I can get rid of him now, let's get rid of him.' 

"I can look Andy Flower in the eye and say: 'Andy, everything that's in my book I told you to your face. Everything. So if you want to do anything about it, you could have done it ages ago.'

On Prior, who was recalled to the Test team at the start of the home summer before withdrawing due to his worsening Achillies injury, Pietersen did not hold back about the influence he believes he had over Cook.

"I think he [Cook] is put in an incredibly difficult position by the ECB. And I think he was fed stuff by Andy Flower, when I had that discussion in his room before the Sydney Test match. And I also think that because Alastair Cook isn't the greatest speaker, Matt Prior was his sidekick who could talk the hind leg off a donkey.

"So he wanted him close to him. He wanted his vice-captain to do all his talking for him. So when 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.

"I saw Jimmy [Anderson] on finals day and I was absolutely fine with Jimmy. I'd be fine with Broad. 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."

Pietersen goes on to suggest that Flower's coaching credentials have been artificially enhanced by the fact that he was in charge of a team that "matured" at the right time. It will be interesting to see how Pietersen reflects on the early days of Flower's main role in 2009 after picking up the pieces in West Indies shortly after Pietersen was sacked as captain.

The captaincy, which was taken away from him in early 2009 after a brief period, is another area covered by Pietersen in the interview as is the textgate affair from 2012 when he sent messages about Andrew Strauss to members of the South Africa team. He also says that the parody Twitter account that was running in 2012 was a major source of his problems at the time which led to the "it's difficult being me" press conference at Headingley.

The book is not fully available until Thursday but is launched on Monday. Pietersen will be holding a ticket-only event in Manchester on Tuesday as well as doing further media appearances.
(Cricinfo)



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