Graeme Swann says there was 'absolutely no bullying' in England camp, despite Kevin Pietersen claims

There are conflicting claims over what went on

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The Independent Online

Graeme Swann has responded to Kevin Pietersen's claims of bullying within the England dressing room and suggested the sacked batsman is guilty of such behaviour himself.

Pietersen's allegations that the England bowlers ruled with fear and demanded apologies for fielding mistakes are made in his autobiography, which is published this week.

Swann on Monday called the suggestions "codswallop" before learning on Tuesday that an England and Wales Cricket Board document on Pietersen's behaviour alleges that the South African had referred to him as a "c**t".

Swann was given light treatment compared to wicket-keeper Matt Prior, though, with Pietersen reserving most of his personal criticism for the Sussex man.

But, according to Swann, bowlers knew where the line was and, in his opinion, Pietersen's assassination of Prior can be considered as bullying.

"There was absolutely no bullying. Sure, bowlers shout at fielders if they are out of position or not concentrating," he wrote in The Sun. "A bowler or wicketkeeper delivers a bit of a kick up the backside - just like a goalkeeper shouts at his centre-half. This is international sport, not the Under-11s.

"If Kevin or other players can't take a b*****king for being unprofessional, for being out of position or seemingly not trying, they are in the wrong business. I must stress bowlers never had a go at fielders for dropping catches or a genuine mistake. It was when somebody was out of position or too busy waving to the crowd."

Swann did concede that Pietersen's claims that Jonathan Trott "cracked" during a game in Bangladesh after such an incident carried some truth, but insisted that Pietersen had "misinterpreted" things.

It is Pietersen's words about Prior which anger Swann the most, though.

Known as 'Big Cheese' in the England squad, Pietersen accuses Prior of being a back-stabber, "horrendous" and "embarrassing" amongst other things.

Swann feels his criticism is unfair, considering it was Prior who actively sought Pietersen's reintergration into the England team after the text-gate scandal of 2012.

"It is Kevin's attacks on Prior and (Andy) Flower that really annoy me. Matt is the most passionate bloke about protecting the team environment. He was the voice of the dressing room," he added.

"Kevin obviously doesn't realise Matt was the guy who really fought to get him back in the team after the Andrew Strauss messages business in 2012.

"Matt was the one guy telling everyone we must work with Kevin, that he's a brilliant batsman and we need his talent. Cheese was the one bloke who picked up the phone to Kevin.

"Now Kevin has written a whole chapter assassinating him, even having a pop at him for taking his bike to New Zealand. Kevin's attack on Matt is, dare I say it, a bit like bullying."

 

Speaking at a question and answer session in Manchester on Tuesday, Pietersen accused Swann of letting England down when he left last winter's Ashes Tour to retire through injury.

Upon getting back from Australia, Swann praised Pietersen's attitude on tour, and stands by that viewpoint.

"I've said all along that Kevin was fine in Australia until the point I left the tour before the Fourth Test," he added.

"So what changed? It must have something to do with Prior and Flower because he seems to have a vendetta. And, of course, he has a book to sell.

"Well, there is one ever-present feature in all this. Kevin shouldn't be called KP, he should be called CD - Common Denominator."

PA

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