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Former England batting coach Graham Gooch has rubbished the comments Kevin Pietersen made about ex-head coach Andy Flower in his autobiography.
Gooch’s comments come after Pietersen claimed that no player ever questioned Flower’s decisions since he ruled by fear.
“Kevin Pietersen is entitled to have his say,” Gooch told the Daily Telegraph. “He has been a match-winning player for England. I am sad to read his comments and I do not concur with many of his views.
“I call Andy England’s anchor. As head coach he created a calm and committed atmosphere in the England dressing-room. He had great determination to prepare for every format of the game. He always looked to promote attacking ideas to win matches.
“He brought a new belief to players following a period of turmoil – at least that’s what I noticed during my involvement as batting coach. He had strength of character and integrity, and as a student of the game was always looking to embrace new training methods and ideologies. He created a top-class atmosphere as mentor and motivator.
“When Kevin had been dropped for messaging South Africa’s players about Andrew Strauss in 2012, it was Andy who wanted to be conciliatory and build bridges. If the allegation over the message’s content was accurate, it was unforgivable and lot of people were saying there was no way back for KP after that episode. But Andy told me he was keen to repair the damage.”
Gooch also noted that he doesn’t recall any of the senior players ever lashing out at junior members of the squad when they dropped catches or misfielded the ball.
“I certainly don’t remember any contretemps about dropped catches,” he said. ” Of course, you are trying to push the team to perform at its maximum and there are occasional flashpoints, but nothing I remember carrying over.”
Even though the England players have been told to maintain their silence, Gooch encouraged captain Alastair Cook and the rest of the national team to stand up and defend themselves.
“I believe Alastair and others should get on the front foot a bit more,” he said. “The players may have been told to maintain silence but if I was still part of that dressing-room I would want to have my say irrespective of any media strategy from the suits.
“I mean when the captain and coach stand up in the dressing-room to give a speech, one of the strong messages is that we fight the fight together. But if you are not prepared to stand up to defend the culture in this sort of situation, I don’t see what credibility the other stuff has. For me, it is one and the same thing.”
Gooch was also quick to dismiss Pietersen’s remarks about wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior being a bad influence in the dressing room.
“Matt Prior is nothing but a team man and nothing but positive,” he said. “Matt was a key player for England. He was our general in the field, a wonderful cricketer who provided backbone to the team. The sentiments that have been aired about him are pure fantasy to me.
“I was not privy to conversations that happened behind closed doors. But for me he was an exceptional bloke and a player who was a game changer. Ultimately, what is sacred to me is to play for your team and Matt Prior was exceptional at that.”
However, Gooch admitted that he was still disappointed with off-spinner Graeme Swann’s decision to announce his retirement midway through the last Ashes series in Australia.
“I don’t agree with what Graeme Swann did, I thought it was criminal to leave the tour at that stage,” he said. “It made us a laughing stock. I cannot understand why he couldn’t stick it out until the end of the trip. It left a bad taste.”