Angus Fraser: If there's tension over Kevin Pietersen, it will explode in the dressing room

True test of KP's 'reintegration' into England fold will come when chips are down and changing room door closes, says Angus Fraser who's sat on the odd unhappy balcony

Well, it all sounds and looks good at the moment. Each of the previously disaffected parties has said the right things and we are assured any issues the England management team, England players and Kevin Pietersen had with each other have been resolved. I am sure over the coming weeks in India, as England prepare for their four-Test tour of the country, there will be plenty of pictures of Pietersen and his team-mates laughing and joking at the back of practice areas. It won't take long before everyone will begin to wonder what all the fuss was about. What could possibly go wrong?

But I have reservations over whether the previously fractious relationships have been repaired enough to survive the pressure they will be placed under over the coming weeks.

International cricket dressing rooms are remarkable places. For a start off, they smell. Even the home dressing room at Lord's has an odour to it. It is a scent of hard work, of graft. These are rooms where weary bodies that have been pushed to the limit rest, recover, celebrate and cry. They are crowded and untidy. No one has any real space. Clothing and equipment lie everywhere. Levels of hygiene have improved but the habits of many players still leave a lot to be desired.

Cricketers, more than any other sportspeople, spend a huge amount of time together in these confined, intense places. If you all get on there is rarely a problem. But if you dislike someone it will irritate the living daylights out of you and resentment will set in.

The nature of cricket means there is a lot of time to talk too. Most of it is inane nervous chatter. Nonsense.Inevitably there is a lot of mickey- taking. Some players are easier targets than others. A lot of the comments made are cutting and to the point. Sport at the highest level is ruthless. You are competing against people in your own side as well as the opposition. It might not be right but you need a pretty thick skin to survive. In good dressing rooms offence is rarely taken.

The modern way of describing it is "banter". But when there is a divide, when players don't get on, it is not seen as such. It is abuse, and tempers can quickly fray.

That most teams manage to keep this potentially combustible cocktail of ingredients under some sort of control is remarkable. Obviously, it is easier when you are winning. Victory relaxes everyone, players worry less about being dropped and irritations are temporarily ignored.

Despite the private face-to-face conversations, promises and agreements, it will only be when the England team spend time together alone in their dressing room that they and we will truly find out whether their issues have been resolved. It is after a tough and disappointing day in the field that nerves are frayed and stress levels rise. It is at these points that shared values and tolerance keep the team together. If the glue holding the team together is not strong enough, character flaws appear and the team fragments. Winning games in these situations is virtually impossible.

Only after a tough session in India will we be able to see what is taking place. Will England look like a team together with shared values or be a group of distant individuals? If the team sticks together it will be real proof that Pietersen has been reintegrated.

Understandably, there will be tension to begin with. In the privacy of the England dressing room a lot will have been said over a long period of time. Strong words may have been exchanged. Those who believe this is only a recent problem, an issue brought to a head by provocative texts, are misguided. Personalities have been clashing for a while.

Players do not always get on and, believe it or not, I even had a few confrontations during my career. Nasser Hussain and I used to have at least one blowout on each tour we went on. On one occasion, in Antigua in 1994, he reacted badly to a bit of "banter" Alec Stewart and I were having at his expense. We were questioning Nasser's running between the wickets. Nasser reacted adversely to a comment I made and a colourful exchange of views ended with him threatening to wrap his bat round my head. There was a bit of tension for a day or two between the two of us, but the issue had been dealt with swiftly and we knew where we stood moving forward. Fortunately, we can laugh about it now.

I was within a comment of thumping Dominic Cork once too. I felt he had been taking the mickey out of me while I was performing my 12th man duties during a day's play in South Africa. He kept asking for this, then saying no he meant that and it went on and on. I happened to be sharing a room with him and I was livid when we returned in the evening. I was itching to get things off my chest. Fortunately, the topic of the day's play did not materialise as we quickly got ready to go out separately. I think he apologised. These were blow-ups that were done and dusted within the day, though. Nothing lingered.

It will not surprise you to hear that Philip Tufnell, my former Middlesex and England team-mate, had his moments too and Mike Gatting managed him well. Like Pietersen, Tufnell could be seen as distracting the management team from their jobs.

Had Tufnell not been a fine bowler I don't think Gatt would have been quite so tolerant.

One of the issues with Pietersen is that the England management seems to want and expect more from him than just runs, and rightly so. Senior players have huge roles to play in a team. They are extremely influential and the management needs them to say the right things and set the right example. If they don't they can unknowingly undermine the culture and environment that those in charge want to create.

In my position at Middlesex I have moved on senior players with good career records because they have not naturally supported the culture I have been trying to create. They have not been bad men, and they did not deliberately try to undermine what we were attempting to create, but I did not feel the messages they were consciously and unconsciously relaying to young, easily influenced players were right.

And with England Pietersen has not been the only guilty party in this sorry saga but, quite rightly, he has the most damage to repair. For England's sake, and their chances of success in India, I only hope that's possible.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker