The story so far


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”.

How many times can you reveal something? Newman was talking about the Carberry tale only on Saturday. Presumably, this is the same Michael Carberry who in March said this to the Guardian.

“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”.


  • That tweet from Tremlett is interesting, I wonder if he knew what was in the book? If he did, that read’s to me like quite a significant corroboration of what Pietersen is saying.

  • You’ve got to love Agnew. His pride at his bit of insider-knowledge is heartbreaking:

    “Jonathan Agnew, the BBC cricket correspondent, who was interviewing Swann on stage, said that it had been Flower who brought Pietersen back into the fold. “But he didn’t want to,” Swann replied, adding to the mystery in recent weeks of who was really responsible for the “reintegration” process. Pietersen dismisses Flower’s role, writing in his book that the coach was visibly upset when he realised he would be forgiven for the text-message scandal of 2012.”

    Pipes up with his ‘nugget’ – a nugget so important he fought a very public war to defend and promote it – and both Swann and KP say he’s talking bollocks.

    Must feel a complete clown.

    (perhaps John Etheridge could offer him some coping mechanisms for that feeling (I’m sure the Germans must have a word for it) of having put all your faith in an unimpeachable ECB source only to discover they stuck a ‘kick me’ sign to your arse.

    • When it was in the ECBs interest to promote Cook as peace keeper, man of action, and all round good egg we were told he had invited KP back. Then, when the rumours started to hint the book would be critical of Flower, they changed the line about Cook, and rushed to claim Flower was the instigator. How convenient?

      What ever the line coming from the ECB the main cricket journalists can’t seem to wait to rush out and spin it for them. Even when they are made to look like fools. Being played like Steinway pianos seems not to bother them one jot.

      Interesting that Swann knows the England coach didn’t want KP back. Did Flower go around informing England players what he thought about team selections? Talk about cliques. More like a nest of vipers. And meanwhile the likes of Newman and Agnew are spinning like tops. If they not careful they are going to spin right off the table.

    • There’s also this.

      “Matt Prior is accused of being a backstabber and bad for the environment. Pietersen claims Flower had it in for him for attempting to have him sacked in 2008. But it was Flower who brought Pietersen back into the team following the scandal over texts he sent to the South Africans in 2012.”

      • Yes, he’s still saying it despite two first-hand witnesses telling him it’s bollocks. He’s either tragically proud of his ‘scoop’ or he’s doing it deliberately.

          • Anyone who hasn’t yet done so should watch the BBC 5 Live video excerpt in which Pietersen confronts Agnew about the Twitter account. They should note the first and second things he says in response, and juxtapose it with his behaviour towards Tregaskis.

            He is so far gone he has no idea how partisan he comes across to sceptics.

            • Indeed. It’s blatant double-standards that the ECB accepted denials from players about any involvement with the public KPGenius twitter account, but not from Pietersen with regards to private messages.

  • Newman so obviously has a personal agenda here. But really his articles are now beyond parody. It’s like reading a spoof in Viz. He should be sued for deformation of character for calling himself a cricket correspondent!

  • I know, it’s pitiful to watch. He is like the classroom goody two shoes. Always with his hand raised. “Oh, please miss, miss, please I know I know.”

    He can’t wait to prove his loyalty to the ECB. It is nauseating to watch the little creep. I guess all those ECB fringe benefits are really important to him.

  • And for Simon Hughes to be promoting a Newman article. I never had a problem with him before. Now I can never take him seriously again

    • Simon Hughes has become an ECB pod person. Dmitri had a good piece the other day about The Cricketer, and how it’s gone to the dark side. It should be renamed ‘The ECB Cricketer.’

        • Are you sure it’s not Pringle that is pissed off. I have’nt seen anything by him on the book. Most of the pieces in the Telegraph have been surprisingly fair in their commentary. Has Pringle been given the DCM?

    • Well when it comes’ to their respective records and achievements – give me the insolent Afrikaner over the Middlesex-ECB I-speak-your-weight machine any day of the Year!

      • It’s always struck me as almost too ridiculous to comment on the idea that some of KP’s professional detractors are, at least partially, motivated by envy.

        But the longer it goes on one can’t help noticing it’s men of unusual talent and achievement – Warne, Vaughan etc, even Boycott – who find it easy to appreciate KP for what he is, whereas his harshest critics all seem to be distinctly 2nd XI at best.

  • Hugh Morris is called a “weak prick” by Pietersen – I can’t imagine he left Morris or others in any doubt as to how he felt about them at the time.

    The contempt he expressed for senior ECB individuals, men who go back a long way with senior journalists and in many cases are friends of theirs, goes a long way to explaining their reporting on Pietersen since 2012.

    A bit more honesty in explaining why they were finding it difficult to report on this story in an unbiased way would have been helpful.

  • “I’m honestly not indulging here in some lazy Newman-bashing”

    That would be beyond the pale. Newman bashing should never be lazy, it should be full throated with gusto and great energy.

    Newman is now officialy a Nobber and a Cockwomble.

    • Ian, I have tried with both barrels but they never publish my comments. They stopped my comments months ago when I called him a sorry excuse for a journalist and that he should “go forth and multiply”. I’m afraid I wasn’t that polite.

      • Well done Vanessa, it’s a great pity he didn’t take your advice. It could also be applied to members of TMS and the Guardian cricket ‘journalists’ as well.

        • Rob Smyth of the Guardian was extremely concerned about what he considered to be the increasing vitriol against Cook a year ago and stopped posting any criticism of the steelman – these self opinionated stalwarts of the media are not doing their job and have not done so for many a long year. Reading the vile comments that are acceptable to these people about Pietersen displays their rank hypocrisy These media people are not ‘professionals’ they are mouthpieces for the cricket elites and have long since given up the ‘entitlement’ to have any values at all or be respected by the reading and enquiring public

          • Naturally, Rob Smyth presented NO EVIDENCE to support his assertion – we all have to ‘take his word’ for it.

  • “He also showed every sign of being uninterested in what was going on, looked out of the window distractedly and glancing at his watch”.

    Well, there you go. Dreadful behaviour. Shocking. Men have been sentenced to jail for less. That Pietersen, eh? What a (insert rude word of choice).

    At least Newman knows the difference between disinterested and uninterested. Somebody must have educated him at some point, though it doesn’t seem to have stuck.

    • You’ve forgotten the most heinous crime in Newman’s and the Daily Mail’s eyes. KP’s a Colonial – dash it all old boy- doesn’t he know how to tug his forelock and bow and scrape towards his Masters’ and betters in the Mother Country!

  • “Pietersen writes that Prior said “fuck Flower this is not his team” adding the management were “creating an awful environment” and “they treat us like schoolboys””

    Would some doyen of the press please ask Prior if this is true. If it is not then he will be calling KP a liar and if he does not respond are we to believe it is true? It will also give us an indication of what to think of Swann’s claim that the book is a work of pure fiction.

  • Thanks for another very good article Maxie. What is interesting is that whilst the ‘cricket’ journalists (e.g. Mr Newman) are solidaly lined up behind the ECB, the wider sports journalists – who by definition take a wider view – are not so quick to take the party line. Have a read of this by Paul Hayward in the Telegraph – a much more considered take on the whole situation than Mr Newman’s Whatever the truth is, bullying has to be investigated – simply denying it, ECB, is not enough.

    • I’m not sure, to put it mildly, that “I don’t believe a word of it” sums up anything ‘perfectly’.

      Allegations of bullying, particularly in the light of what happened to Trott, ought not to be dismissed in quite such a matter of fact way.

  • Sadly my memory goes back a long way. Back to E W Swanton’s time as cricket correspondent of the Telegraph. Now there was someone who aspired to be and probably was part of the cricket establishment. Referring in a memoir to an earlier furore namely the D’Oliviera affair,he wrote that he hated every moment of the autumn of 1968. This was because, despite being mortified at the great damage he felt was being done to the prestige of the MCC and the game,he thought the situation had been mishandled by them and was therefore obliged to say so in print. Would that some of the ECB apologists masquerading as cricket writers today possessed similar integrity

    • I think it is fair to say that most of the cricket media came out against Packer In 1977. I’m sure there were some supporters. But the heard mentality prevailed,until they all wondered, lemming like, off the cliff.

      Many of them came to like day night cricket, and the better money for the players. Of course they always grumbled about Packer.

  • Just a snippet I found very interesting, but on the BBC website in the poll “Should KP play for England again” 55% said yes… while oviously this is far from definitive, it does suggest that as much as Kevin has been damned bby the cricket media there is still a groundswell of public support for him, despite the booing at T20 finals day.

    • The T20 booers were supporters of opposing teams, who’d been on the piss all day, and who were looking for a pantomime villain to enliven the day. I’m not surprised that among a wider public, in a more neutral context, there is more support for him.

  • Good summary, Maxie. As you say, things are moving very fast and it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a couple of my press highlights.

    The Indy has a very good piece that concentrates not on Pietersen but on the plight of Jonathan Trott as described by KP in the book, and what this says about the dressing room culture of the England team under Flower.

    In the same paper, Stephen Brenkley has redeemed a lot of past sins by printing a critical but sympathetic review, which in its final paragraph hints at wider culpability for Pietersen’s mistreatment — did he finally catch a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror?

    By contrast, Andy Bull, who I thought would be good, takes aim at the messenger, reloads, then takes aim at the messenger again. No link, not worth wasting your time on.

    • Hi Clive,

      I agree about the Andy Bull article. I’m afraid I’ve just had a full go at him and his bretheren.

      I usually regard Andy well but this was pure spite to my mind and I’m afraid I let him have it.

  • I thought this passage from Paul Haywards piece were quite telling……

    Consider this passage from the book, not widely reported: “Early on, one thing that impressed me about Cooky as our new captain was that he straight up didn’t want any bullying behaviour in the team. I was glad. At last, somebody else managed to recognise that we had a problem.”

    “Cooky was clear: no more s****** on each other. No abuse on the field. It sort of stuck for a while, but then came out again in India. [Matt] Prior started it, shouting at the younger guys in the field.”

    Paul Hayward makes this observation…

    ‘Interesting that the tough nuts who thought it necessary to force fielders to apologise to the mighty bowlers for errors did not, allegedly, extend cabinet responsibility to ridiculing a team-mate on social media.,

    ‘In Monday’s interview, Pietersen revealed that Flower and Strauss tried to curtail internal sledging. He said: “The thing that horrified me the most was when Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss in Bangalore before the one-day internationals said – guys we’ve got to stop this, it’s not right for the team, there are guys that have come to [us] that are intimidated to field the ball.”

    But the coaches and captain could still not get control of their players

    ‘But coach and captain failed, as bowlers restated their divine right to apologies from fielders (how many times must Monty Panesar have said sorry?) In a previous age, this would evoke images of Tom Brown’s schooldays, with some butter-fingered weakling being hauled up before the strike bowler and cruel son of a sadistic Lord. “Now look here, Compton…”

    Extraordinary stuff.

    • I wrote this on the Bull piece, but it doesn’t hurt to be repeated :)
      It’s almost as if . . . some of that dressing room clique extended beyond the dressing room. Swann, Anderson, Prior – all good lads, giving the journos time and the odd insider tidbit, laughing about that wierd South African and his odd arrogant ways…..and Monty’s hilarious fielding…. over a beer or two….
      It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a few of the ex-players who now call themselves journalists having quite a good idea of what went on in the dressing room, and thinking “Well, if Finny/Tremlett/Monty/Compton or whoever can’t handle a bit of banter from their own team, they’ll be no good out in the middle when the Aussies get stuck in – probably best if they just go quietly away”
      This would also explain the way Joe Root has done ok, at last, of all the newbies that have been tried recently. He fits in with the clique.
      I’m guessing James Taylor didn’t.

      • As Hayward says it is like a episode of Tom Browns school days. Or Ripping Yarns. “Yes schools bully, no school bully” three bags full school bully.”

        And neither Strauss, or Cook as captain, or Flower as coach could stop it. It just comes across as very unprofessional.

  • Yesterday morning, before the furore kicke off, I summarised my take on the whole situation. I see that KP echoes a number of the topics that I wonder about – honestly I did write it early yesterday!

    All this focus on KP and Cook really serves the ECB very well as a distraction from any kind of inquest into the débâcle of the 2013-14 Ashes tour. Remember, there was a bloated, inflexible and complacent management team (which included the captain) who somehow failed to spot that:

    1. Trott was on the verge of burn out
    2. Swann was bowling in severe pain and had lost some of the ingredients that made his bowling effective
    3. Prior was playing with a performance-inhibiting injury
    4. Tremlett had evolved into a medium pace trundler
    5. Finn was not ready again to bowl at top level
    6. It was a risk to bank on Bresnan recovering quickly from stress fractures in his back
    7. Without anyone to share the workload, Anderson and Broad drop in pace and lose effectiveness
    8. There was no Plan B (not even a proper reserve wicket-keeper)
    9. The Australians had dissected the batting techniques of Cook and Root and had evolved plans which rendered them ineffective towards the end of the Ashes series in England

    In addition, during the series in Australia, the bloated management team seemed unable to devise ways of countering Haddin, whose lower-order batting saved Australia in just about every match.

    In such a situation, I would have expected there to be masses of discontent in the English team. The fact that only KP is said to have been out of harmony is a cause for worry. It was clear from watching the matches on the TV that the carefully devised tactics and strategies were falling apart and that insistence on extra PT and gooij berries was not going to work. How is it that only KP was able to spot this? Are the rest of the team fools? Even so, most companies would welcome someone who is able to indicate that the plans are going wrong. When the team members follow orders blindly, with no avenue for dissent or criticism, that is usually a recipe for disaster.

    Since then, what has happened? There is still a bloated, inflexible and complacent management team (which includes the same captain who presided over the drubbing in Australia). Flower, the inflexible and uninspiring leader, has been replaced by someone who is probably even more rigid in his approach and even less inspiring.

    We have seen this from the bloated, inflexible and complacent management team:

    1. They selected Prior despite a severe injury until the point where the player had to stand down when he felt his performance was not acceptable. What is the point of the management team?
    2. The planners have devised bone-headed tactical plans that cost England two Test matches and there was no one on field with the tactical awareness to see what was going wrong and to make changes
    3. Plunkett has been bowled into injury
    4. Broad has been worked hard to the extent that he needs surgery on his knee
    5. The only player capable of going against the grain was dropped
    6. Some promising players have emerged – and have shown that they can score heavily against bowling at less than 85 mph

    In addition, the ECB have given full backing to a player who indulged in foul-mouthed abuse of an opposition player, but have also rather hypocritically invoked the “Spirit of the Game” over a perfectly legitimate “mankading” incident.

    Another concern must be how difficult it has been to introduce and integrate new players. Compton, Carberry, Taylor and Bairstow now seem to be on the sidelines and unlikely to get picked again. The way that Kerrigan and Rankin were handled on their debuts does nothing to inspire confidence in the captain’s man-management skills. However, Woakes at least does seem to have survived and might well go on to better things but one player out of seven is not a great success ratio. We might also have concerns about how the management team handled Panesar to such a point where he appears to have no confidence in his ability to play cricket.

    What are the reasons to be cheerful about the future? The captain has admitted that the team has little chance of winning the world cup and indeed the line-up does not seem capable of scoring 280 runs on a regular basis in ODIs. The planners’ apparent belief that 230 is a winning score does not seem to be validated by any evidence that I can dredge up. Next year, Ryan Harris might be too old and unfit to tour England and Mitchell Johnson might have lost a yard of pace as he gets older. However, Australia still have a lot of bowlers capable of bowling 10 mph faster than the attack against which Balance and co scored all their runs. The bloated, inflexible and complacent management team (which includes the captain) is still in place, as inflexible and complacent as ever, fine-tuning its ill-conceived plans, working players to exhaustion and backing a captain who is unable to think on his feet in a match situation.

    • Excellent summary of the whole situation. Regardless of whether or not Pietersen had a share of responsibility for this shambles of a tour, he was the only one involved who suffered any fall out from it. There should have been a thorough enquiry into all aspects of the failure of the tour. This was blatant scapegoating and the media just went along with it, even calling it a brave decision when it was actually as cowardly a decision as could have been made. Downton showed with his very first action that he is totally unfit for the position he holds. Until he and others who colluded with him have gone there is no hope for English cricket. Any flak that flies in their direction from all this is thoroughly deserved. If only the cricket media weren’t so complaint it might bury them

  • I was at the grass roots dinner at Lords where Swann and in more muted tones Agnew took potshots at KP. Downton was only asked a mild question on the bullying culture by Agnew.

    • This makes me laugh. Agnew and Swann are doing a sort of third rate vaudeville act. Where they pretend to be impartial observers commentating on English Cricket, while all the time being a dog and pony ECB show. They even get Downton to appear on the bill too.

      I’m surprised Flower, Strauss, Newman, and the top brass at Waitrose don’t appear as well.

      • Curiously Agnew is giving a great deal more credence to some of Pietersen’s complaints on R5 this evening…

        • I agree. Iam listening to him on 5 live. He is being more balanced than I have heard before.

          He thinks this dossier is a disaster for the ECB. And that is Agnew saying that not KP.

          • The phrase “tipping point” springs to mind. Respect to Agnew, his has come a damn sight sooner than Newman’s. Newman has gone all-in with an article saying the dossier proves Pietersen is a hypocrite who deserved to be sacked.

            • Except that Agnew’s first instinct is to hope it will just all go away.
              Cutting through the Pietersen only stuff, there are serious issues which the kerfuffle has brought to light and which need addressing.

  • I have to say I feel incredibly sorry for Waitrose…imagine being associated with this shower. Especially as they seem to be a pretty ethical organisation as these things go.

  • Aaagh! is there any chance of getting rid of the American spelling checker on this board?

    Please I beg of you…Maxie, James for the love of………………insert preferred entity name here.

  • Thanks for all your excellent comments and for contributing all these stories and talking points. Sorry not to have replied on this thread but these are busy busy times! About to post on the dossier.

  • Ian, how does this “American” spell-checker manifest itself? And who cares whether you write disorganise or disorganize…they sound the same and both can be found in the OED if you look far enough back. “English” spelling codified quite late in the day, after the Americans had decided how toispell words.

    • All uniquely British spelling words as opposed to American are underlined in red.

      I know I’m being a bit pathetic, It’s just that I am annoyed by the Americanisation of every dam thing in the world and it really pisses me off on an English blog that my English spelling is corrected to the American by default.

  • I’ve read lots of stuff about this now. I detest the vile, personal abuse directed at Pietersen – even though I’m not his best mate – if this is representative of good English team management then I do not want to know them. The media have not covered themselves in glory and presumably take the ECB line because it keeps them in work – typical of those in elite positions of a country that is going down the pan. The ECB is NOT FIT for purpose. The British media, in general there are exceptions, is NOT FIT for purpose. I wish I could burn all their houses down.

    it appears Pietersen was the only ‘angry’ one in the Ashes wipeout – nobody else appeared bothered – yet it was him alone who loses his place on false premesis and lies. Flower, Cook, Swann, Prior, Broad, Anderson are all culpable in my eyes and their removal from anywhere near English cricket is vital if any form of renewal is to be possible. And I will never watch England play cricket again until Downton and Clarke and the rest of the bastards at the ECB are removed.


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