Gooch: England should fight claims


Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Graham Gooch has questioned why there has been limited reaction from the current England set-up in the wake of Kevin Pietersen’s controversial claims in his autobiography.

Pietersen’s book, released last week, sent shockwaves through the cricket world, with the 34-year-old criticising an alleged ‘bullying’ culture led by the bowlers within the England dressing room.

While several former professionals have commented on the allegations, – including former spinner Graeme Swann, who, Pietersen claims, was among the ringleaders – only England captain Alastair Cook and seamer James Anderson among the current number have spoken out in defence of the team.

And Gooch, England’s leading Test run-scorer of all-time and the team’s batting coach from 2009 until earlier this year, believes those still playing for the side should be allowed their right of reply – even if they have been warned by the hierarchy to keep quiet.

“I believe Alastair and others should get on the front foot a bit more,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

“When you and your system are challenged you need to fight back, this sentiment is always expressed in team meetings, never take a backward step have the courage of your convictions. Stand up and stand tall for your country.

“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.”

Gooch has become the latest person to question Pietersen’s version of events and launched a staunch defence of former coach Andy Flower, who was described by Pietersen as “sour” and “dour”.

“I call Andy England’s anchor,” said Gooch. “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.

“When I heard this word bullying well, I’d never heard this word used before in the England dressing-room. There are always disagreements within teams and things said in the heat of the moment. But the way it has been portrayed is not my recollection of the atmosphere within the team.”

Pietersen was also scathing of Matt Prior, with an entire chapter dedicated to the wicketkeeper-batsman.

But Gooch added: “Matt Prior is nothing but a team man and nothing but positive. I considered him the glue of the side and a brilliant batsman who could adapt his game to suit any situation.

“He was also a world-class wicketkeeper, one of several world-class players we’ve had over the past few years”

Published: Tuesday 14th October 2014 by The News Editor

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