Bullies, Mood Hoovers and Paranoia


“I was naive … but I’m not a villain” says Pietersen

“The book’s a work of fiction” says Graeme Swann

“I nodded at and agreed with certain things” says Nasser Hussain

“Pietersen is no victim” says Dominic Cork

Oh heavens, this is going to run and run, then run some more. The Aussies must be laughing themselves silly watching our cricket team doing its dirty laundry in public.

However, when the ECB imposed this stupid bloody confidentiality clause, this storm was always going to happen.

Perhaps the wisest thing said on the subject thus far came from Mike Atherton, who basically said the truth lies somewhere in between. He also calls Pietersen and ‘unreliable witness’, which I suppose is true: KP is giving his testimony, and yeah sure he’s biased. He’s setting the record straight and trying to win people over.

As for what I’ve personally made of today’s events, I think Paul Downton comes out of it worst. In my opinion he’s portrayed as a weakling – and I tend to agree. He turned up in Sydney, having missed the Melbourne test because he was flying at the time, asked Flower for an update, acted on all of Flower’s recommendations, then gave him a promotion.  And remind me what he did about the ineffectual skipper again?

After seeing Dowton’s interview on Sky earlier in the summer, I’m convinced he was like a kid at Christmas after taking up his role at the ECB. He seemed star struck by Flower and Cook, and in my opinion did exactly what they wanted because he didn’t have the strength (being new to the role and outside cricket for several years) to sack the captain and coach as his first act in a new job. Instead a different scapegoat was found.

However, perhaps this is a digression. Today all seems to be about Pietersen the man. Is he a victim or is he paranoid? Was he really bullied, or does he simply lack a sense of humour? There’s banter in all dressing rooms. Maybe KP simply couldn’t take it?

On the other hand, it has been reported many times that the England dressing room has cliques; that new players often find it difficult to adjust and feel accepted (ask Nick Compton and Michael Carberry). Is it really so far fetched that Pietersen felt alienated and persecuted, especially after the KP Genius Twitter affair?

What’s more, what cannot be denied is that Pietersen was a consummate professional in terms of his work ethic and preparation. He was also a great mentor for the younger players … those outside the clique. Basically therefore, he can’t be all bad.

The key question for me is whether Andy Flower really is (or rather was) a bully. Well how on earth are we supposed to know from where we’re sitting?

I believe Pietersen completely when he describes Flower as a ‘mood hoover’. His post match interviews were about as interesting as watching a cat lick its backside. But a bully? Really?

Some would say Sir Alex Ferguson was a bully. He’s regarded by many to be the finest football manager of all time.

I wonder what he would have made of David Beckham, or Roy Keane for that matter, saying “you don’t scare me boss” (which is what Pietersen admits he said to Flower).

I’ll have to read the book myself, and digest more reaction, before I can come to any firm conclusions. What about you guys? It could be a long week …

James Morgan


    • If England has a culture of bullying in which young and/or junior players are diminished for non-cricketing reasons, don’t you think it might benefit English cricket to do something about it?

      • A place where bullying occurs is such a terrible and awful environment to be in. If one has been seriously bullied until one is just too ill to function then one would know how bad it can get. I can and do believe it. You can see the on field nasty looks from bowlers to their own team members. There were certainly a lot of reasons for the England team to be so utterly crushed by the Aussies last year. That battering was not about one player not fitting in or being “disconnected?” The appalling mess of England is down to management, very poor management. Hopefully this expose, warts and all, will see the end of this current ECB regime.

  • Gary, you may be right, but the ECB have had their say and so has Cook in interviews. So it is only fair that finally KP has his say – whether he is a reliable witness or not. After all the ECB and Cook have their own agenda here so they can hardly be a reliable witness either.

  • Oh it’s always banter for the people dishing it out. Not so much for those on the receiving end. KP’s greatest mistake was not to claim his texts were a bit of banter.

    Can’t see what Strauss is moaning about. It was all a bit of banter. See how easy it is?

    What I have never understood is why the ECB put so much store on the 5th and final test match. England were already 4-0 down. Trott had gone home with health problems. Swann had jacked it in. The tour was already in complete meltdown. Why on earth were they so concerned with KPs body language?

    • Revenge of the Stamp Collector, wasn’t it? The only narrative that made sense at the time and still does.

      “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.’ ” ”

      Or, as Dmitri put it this morning:

      “Under his watch, and Cook’s, we lost 5-0 in Australia and a team fell apart. The way it has been “analysed” is that this was inevitable, the team was knackered, there were too many people coming to the fin de siecle, and really there was nothing anyone could do about it except cut out the oldies and start afresh. There has been no inkling, either from the ECB or from the press, of anything more than that. What seemed to happen as soon as Silent Paul went out to Oz was Flower securing his legacy, and to do that, something had to be done. Until I see anything to the contrary, it was to end Pietersen’s career. How else do you explain dropping the top run scorer?”

      Or go back and look at the timeline post-Sydney: what came out, when, and who printed it (and then attempted to retract a key part of it). Or look at the whole sorry mess and aftermath and say “cui bono?”

      Flower’s stamp is all over this. Always has been.

      • I guess you’re right Arron, but it really is cynical stuff. Put the entire tours cock ups down to KPs so called lack of interest in the 5 th test.

        Forget the 88 page diet sheets. The 3 giant bowlers who were unfit for purpose, the lack of any plan to combat Johnson. We have always know this was the case, but it seems so ludicrous in black and white.

        Just makes me dislike the ECB even more, and a real hatred for the cricket media who have sold this steaming pile of dog poo to the public. It also explains the media’s pathetic triumphalism at New England’s average cricket this summer.

  • I know “the book” doesn’t seem to have much of a vendetta against Alistair Cook, but remember what he said when asked about KP’s sacking?

    “There are a number of reasons which will become clearer soon but you have to respect the position I’m in at this precise moment. I know everyone is going to keep asking that question until we give the answers but at the moment we just can’t.
    The decision was not taken lightly, without a lot of consideration and thought… It was a tough decision and will be made clearer in due course.”

    I’d like him to come out now and tell us what those reasons were. And why any of them didn’t apply to several other players from the so-called Ashes team of last Winter.

  • “The Aussies must be laughing themselves silly watching our cricket team doing its dirty laundry in public.”

    Speaking as an Australian, I’m guessing that right now I’m feeling roughly the same way fans of English cricket did back when some players were suspended for not doing their homework.

    Funny old game, isn’t it? Back then the average Australian punter would not have bet any money at all on Australia regaining the Ashes in 2013-14. Just as I’m pretty sure there are a lot of English cricket fans who have pessimistic views on the next Ashes series. The proof, as always, will be in the pudding (or game outcomes, to be pedantic).

    • I suppose the difference is that the Aussies changed coach, and had a world class batsman and captain leading the side. The people responsible for England’s mess are still in place, although I’d argue that Moores is a worse coach than Flower (who is still in the background). What’s more, we now know that Cook’s so weak he can’t even speak in public – in front of his own team at meetings! It’s laughable.

  • Not so much laughing as groaning at the inevitability of it all. (It’s like to many bad puns)

    You can’t blame Pietersen for this. I’d be throwing the whole lot of them under the bus with glee as well.

    This whole unsavoury episode is the result of personal point scoring by a number of people but behind all of them you come to the looming shadow of Flower this is his doing. It festered and appears to have been encouraged under his watch.

    All the talk has been of the malign influence of Pietersen, to me it appears that the much more malign influence has been Flower…and he’s still there.

    At least we dealt with Mickey Arthur it may have been unpleasant but it’s best to remove a thorn before it begins to fester requiring more radical treatment.

    To my mind England are on life support and will be until there is radical surgery at the top of the tree.

  • There was a comment in the Telegraph blog about rewatching the “Swanny’s Ashes Video Diary” for signs of bullying, so I did. It is clear that Finn is being bullied, he is described by Swann as the most boring cricketer alive and compared to Frank Spencer. He picks on him for having long hair then again weeks later for having had it cut. Broad is beautiful in comparison. Prior has a lovely beard.
    If that is a hint of what they thought was fine on camera when everything was going well, I can imagine how toxic it must have felt when things started to get worse later on.

  • What a bunch of f~~king children – every single one of them.

    And by calling Hugh Morris a ‘weak prick’ and the petty assassination of Prior and Flower, Pietersen is on exactly the same level.

    My immediate thought is that England should fire Peter Moores and hire Super Nanny to modify the behaviour of what is, supposedly, a bunch of enormously well-paid grown men.

    Based on the excerpts of the book that have come to light, I have no interest in reading it.

    Reflects badly on everybody involved in the whole sorry saga, not least KP.

    Can we move on…..


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