Things moved so fast on Monday that it’s been difficult to keep up.On Tuesday morning, Pietersen is due to give a series of TV interviews – and yet more new lines may emerge.
Our contributor Tregaskis is, as I speak, working his way through the book in detail, and we will publish his thoughts very soon.
Hundreds of questions arise from what we’ve learned today. For many of them, I’d like to read the book first hand before commenting in detail.
But here are a few early thoughts, to add to James’s earlier this evening.
For months the likes of us have levelled accusations very similar to the ones Pietersen has published today. We were called “know-nothings” by the likes of Mike Selvey. We weren’t in possession of the facts, they carped. But Pietersen is in possession of the facts. And now he’s saying all the same things
The ECB have a major problem on their hands and the reputations of both Andy Flower and Matt Prior will be permanently tarnished. Many people – probably the majority – believe Pietersen is exaggerating, was massively over-sensitive, and is so bitter he’s distorted reality. But the sheer scale and aggression of Pietersen’s assault is enough for his claims to make their mark.
What he’s said is so forthright, so vivid, and so brutal, that it will be impossible for his targets to brush off every allegation. Pietersen has thrown so much at the wall that some of it – perhaps a lot – will stick.
The book is a lot worse than the ECB feared. Pietersen may not have convinced everyone but nevertheless he’s asked a vast number of awkward questions. Virtually every aspect of Team England’s operations since 2007 will now come under the microscope.
Was there bullying? Does it still go on? Did Flower and the ECB neglect their duty of care? Why weren’t Pietersen’s concerns about Jonathan Trott taken seriously?
What action did Flower take when he found Pietersen in tears in the dressing room? Did he rule by a culture of fear? Did Matt Prior mistreat fellow players?
Are the team building exercises a ridiculous waste of time? Is the entire squad riven by cliques and in-fighting? Are players scared to field the ball in case a misfield brings abuse?
Even Pietersen’s greatest enemies will wonder. Quite a lot of what he alleges is so specific and acute that it has the ring of truth.
The ECB can’t just casually say “it’s all false”. And they won’t want to be accused of anything like this again. Will they end up paying Pietersen the greatest compliment of all – changing the way they do things, simply because of what he said?
Mike Atherton’s view is gaining traction: that the truth is somewhere in the middle. If he’s right, that means that half of it is true.
We’re talking here about extremely serious allegations, made by a very senior figure who was at the heart of English cricket for nine years. Will there be an investigation? Will journalists probe deeper? How will the ECB respond?
Quite a lot of what Pietersen appears to say in the book is difficult to prove either way. When does forthright and assertive behaviour become unacceptable?
It’s interesting that Chris Tremlett Tweeted this on Thursday evening:
“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”.
Why did he say that? And who else will put their heads above the parapet?
Michael Vaughan wrote this in the Daily Telegraph on Monday evening:
“I have said for a long time that Kevin is one of the easiest players that I managed. It is important to speak honestly to him – to give him direction, freedom, and confidence to express his talents. If you did that, I felt he was always behind you”.
And he should know.
Update: our old friend Paul Newman, arch-Pietersenphobe and Daily Mail cricket correspondent, has come up with a grotesque and preposterous attempt to claw back some ground.
With a jaw-dropping lack of self-awareness, he describes the book as “joyless and bitter”.He then goes on to claim, without citing any evidence, that Pietersen attempted to “oust” Strauss as one-day captain by sending Flower a “nauseating” e-mail promoting himself for the role. Supposedly, Pietersen used the salutation ‘Howsit Petals’, into which Newman reads great significance.
Later in the piece, Newman back-tracks by using the word “rumoured” and conceding that Strauss was about to give up the job anyway (ie – that Pietersen was pitching to fill a vacancy, rather than unseat an incumbent).
It is desperate stuff. Elsewhere Newman accuses Pietersen of threatening to quit after the Ashes were lost in Perth. Er, you mean – a bit like Swann did, but only a threat rather than, as in Swann’s case, actually doing it.
If there was real dirt on Pietersen, Newman’s the man they’d feed it to. But instead he’s resorted to rehashing old material:
“It can also be revealed that Pietersen questioned whether Michael Carberry should be in the team behind his back while he batted”.
“It’s obvious that since the [Ashes] tour ended some very, very strange decisions have been made.[Pietersen’s sacking]was a big surprise because I don’t think anyone saw that coming. Through the tour, certainly, Kev was very helpful to me. Over the years Kev, as one of the greats of the game, has always been very helpful”.
I’m honestly not indulging here in some lazy Newman-bashing. There is a deeper significance: his failure to land even a glancing blow on Pietersen reveals, surely, that there is nothing on him.
But I’ve saved the best for last:
“Earlier this year Sportsmail revealed that Pietersen had whistled provocatively and nonchalantly after his second innings dismissal at the SCG and now it has emerged that he did it again in the aftermath of the final wicket falling, even though he says in his book he cannot remember whistling”.
“He also showed every sign of being uninterested in what was going on, looked out of the window distractedly and glancing at his watch”.