Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann has insisted that none of the national team players bullied each other in the national team.
Swann’s comments come after Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography stated that wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior and a few other members of the England squad bullied other players.
“There was absolutely no bullying,” Swann wrote in his column for The Sun. “Sure, bowlers shout at fielders if they are out of position or not concentrating.
“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, pace bowler Ajmal Shahzad, who played for England in 2010 and 2011, seemed to agree with Pietersen’s comments as he revealed that he felt under intense pressure to apologise when he dropped a catch or “misfielded balls”.
“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.’
“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.”
Speaking about the Jonathan Trott incident in Bangladesh in 2010, Swann noted that it was just a big misunderstanding between Trott and Prior, and added that Pietersen had “misinterpreted” the entire thing.
“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.
Swann also pointed out that Pietersen’s criticism of Prior in his autobiography is “a bit like bullying”.
“Matt is the most passionate bloke about protecting the team environment,” Swann wrote. “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.”