Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
England captain Alastair Cook has announced that “it’s been a really sad week for cricket” following the release of former batsman Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography.
Pietersen stated that bullying was rife in the England team and pointed out that James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior were the main culprits behind it.
However, Cook feels that the South African-born batsman has done nothing but “tarnish” one of England’s golden eras.
“It’s been a really sad week for cricket,” Cook told the BBC. “After talking to quite a few of my team-mates on the England team, we have to draw a line under it at some stage and this is a good time to do that.
“I am very proud of that era I have played in; to win three Ashes, to become the best side in the world; to play with some great players. I really only have fond memories of it.
“I am incredibly proud to have contributed in that period. To play under Andrew Strauss, to have played under Andy Flower as coach, I have only got respect for these guys. I do believe that era has been tarnished, and I am sad about that.”
Pietersen also noted that none of the players, with the exception of himself, had the guts to talk back to former head coach Andy Flower since he ruled by fear.
When asked if this was true, Cook said: “I have known Andy since the Essex dressing room, when he took me under his wing as a player. Obviously, your relationship changes as a head coach and captain and I only have respect for him as a man, and as a coach. He was an amazing coach for our side. Chatting to some of the guys about it, they feel the same. A lot of the success was down to his drive and determination to make us a tough England side.
“International cricket is a tough place and, as a team, you’re striving for excellence at all times. Certainly at some stages those frustrations boiled over more than they should have done, but that was only people who were desperate to succeed and wanting to know the other 10 blokes around them were committed 100% to it also.
“Did it overstep the mark a couple of times? Possibly, but we addressed those issues. That’s what happens in teams, but it certainly wasn’t a bullying environment as such.”
Pietersen heavily criticised Prior in his autobiography as he claimed that the wicketkeeper-batsman was “backstabbing” and “bad for the environment”.
“It’s sad that he could be remembered like that,” Cook said. “He’s put everything in to that England shirt and can be incredibly proud.
“Matty is a great man and has been a fantastic servant to English cricket. He has to be remembered as a guy who put his heart and soul on the line for England. The team was all that mattered to him.”