Cook: KP book has tarnished England

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Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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England captain Alastair Cook believes the successful Andrew Strauss-Andy Flower era has been “tarnished” by Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography.

Pietersen’s book was released this week and he made a number of carefully organised media appearances in which he repeated several allegations, including claims of a bullying culture in the England dressing room.

Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Prior were particularly singled out by the South African-born batsman for criticism.

Speaking for the first time about Pietersen’s allegations, Cook told the BBC: “I am very proud of the 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 that. 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.”

Cook, while acknowledging there were times when players overstepped the mark, strongly refuted the bullying allegations.

Attempting to draw a line under Pietersen’s book, Cook said: “International cricket is a tough place and as a team you are striving for excellence at all times.

“Certainly at some stages those frustrations probably boiled over more than they should have done, but that was only people desperate to succeed and wanting to know the other 10 blokes around them were committed 100 per cent to them.

“Did it over step the mark a couple of times? Possibly, but we addressed those issues – this is something that always happens in teams. It certainly wasn’t a ‘bullying environment’ at all in my eyes.”

Pietersen was particularly disdainful towards Flower, claiming he allowed the ‘bullying’ culture to grow and describing him as “Contagiously sour. Infectiously dour” and a “mood hoover”.

Yet Cook rejected those descriptions and paid tribute to the Zimbabwean who oversaw three Ashes victories and led England to the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings during his tenure.

“I only have respect for him as a man, and as a coach. He was an amazing coach for our side,” he said.

“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.”

The criticisms of Prior, who was described as “back-stabbing”, “horrendous” and “bad for the environment” of the England team by Pietersen, came as a particular surprise to Cook.

Describing him in glowing terms, Cook hopes the Sussex man can represent England again if he can recover from an Achilles injury.

“That was probably the biggest shock for me. He is a great man who has been a fantastic servant for English cricket,” Cook said.

“Hopefully if he can get through his really nasty injury, we could see him again in an England shirt.

“He has to be remembered as a guy who put his heart and soul on the line for England all the time, and the team was all that mattered to him. He has put everything into the England shirt and he should be incredibly proud of that.”

While Cook escaped heavy criticism, Pietersen did question his “qualifications to be captain” in the wake of the fallout from the Ashes whitewash.

It is a familiar theme for Cook, who once again stated his desire to lead England ahead of the one-day tour to Sri Lanka next month.

“I feel very comfortable now in the England captaincy role, I really feel that I have the support of the lads. We just can’t wait to go to Sri Lanka now and face the challenges ahead over the next 12 months,” he added.

Published: Saturday 11th October 2014 by The News Editor

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