Matt Prior vows to respond to Kevin Pietersen claims he was a 'bad influence' who 'picks on players'

The wicketkeeper has been heavily criticised by Pietersen in an interview

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The Independent Online

Matt Prior has vowed to have his right of reply to Kevin Pietersen's description of him being a "bad influence" who "picks on players".

Prior will take time before responding formally, however, and contented himself on Monday morning with a short riposte on Twitter in which he also sought to defuse Pietersen's claims with a touch of humour.

In a Daily Telegraph interview before this week's publication of his autobiography, record-breaking batsman Pietersen - controversially axed by the England and Wales Cricket Board after last winter's Ashes whitewash - also spoke of a "bullying" culture under the regime of former coach Andy Flower.

He cited Prior as the worst culprit, a charge which is an attack to the heart of the wicketkeeper's reputation as a highly-valued team player.

Prior tweeted: "After this morning, I'm looking forward to reading the full kp book.

"Might bully my kids into getting it for me for Xmas!!"

He added: "Obvs sad to see the accusations against me this am and I WILL have my right of reply! However today is not the day and Twitter is not the place for it!

"Now back to my Achilles rehab and learning to walk again! have a great day everyone."

Pietersen accused Prior of being a bad influence in the England dressing-room and Flower of ruling "by fear".

But he spoke positively about captain Alastair Cook in his first interview to promote his autobiography, which will be released for sale on Thursday and made available to media on Monday.

The ECB has declined to comment as yet, on the basis that requests for a copy of the book has fallen on deaf ears with its publishers.

A spokesman said on Monday morning: "The ECB has still not received the book, despite requests to the publishers - and until we see it, it is going to be very difficult to comment on anything in it."

There was no immediate response either from the governing body to the content of Pietersen's Telegraph interview.

Prior is on the receiving end of his strongest criticism, objecting to the wicketkeeper's portrayal as a "team man" and claiming "a lot of people are very happy" the former vice-captain no longer has an ECB central contract.

Pietersen added England's bowlers, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad, "ran the dressing room", with fielders forced to apologise for errors and dropped catches.

But while he insists he still wants to return to the England team and would have no problem doing so alongside Broad and Anderson, Prior's alleged part in the culture is a different matter.

"The bowlers were given so much power," he said.

"I thought, 'I reckon I could hit these guys. Who do you think you are, to ask for an apology from someone who's trying his heart out? Are you perfect, are you never going to drop a catch? Are you never going to bowl a wide?'

"I went after Prior and said Prior shouldn't be in that side because he's a bad influence, a negative influence.

"He's one bloke that quite a few - I could count on more than one hand - have said: 'Please can you tell the world what that guy's like?'

"It's only Prior that I'd seriously have real issues with, because of how he was portrayed as a team man, the heart and soul of the dressing room, when he was getting up to the stuff he was getting up to."

On Flower, South Africa-born Pietersen said: "He didn't like one of his soldiers to hammer him. He was the boss. He wanted me to fear him. I'll never fear you, buddy."

The 34-year-old is far less critical of Cook, who found himself under increasing pressure as captain and batsman earlier this year following a miserable run which saw England lose seven of nine Tests.

Pietersen said: "I hate to see the way he was this summer, because the ECB have put him in a very uncomfortable position and they could ruin his career.

"They literally could ruin his career."

He also gave an insight into earlier controversies in his chequered but stellar career - including the 'provocative' mobile messages he sent to opposition players, critical of then captain Andrew Strauss, in England's 2012 home series defeat against South Africa and his state of mind after learning shortly beforehand some of his own team-mates might be behind a parody Twitter account aimed at him.

" ... what had happened the previous week where I got told by a senior player that that Twitter account was being run from inside our dressing room.

"I was completely broken, absolutely finished, mentally shot."

It was against that background Pietersen claims he foolishly went along, in the messages, with a South African insult for Strauss.

"A doos, which is just an idiot.

"I regret being involved in conversations like that, and I shouldn't have been, but mentally I was totally broken.

"I was crying in a room with Andy Flower during that Test match, saying, how the hell has it come to this?

"Yes, of course I regret getting Straussy involved. I went to his house to apologise - said I'm really sorry - I should never have got you involved, it hurt your final Test match."

Pietersen has fewer regrets over his disagreements with Peter Moores which led to both losing respective roles as captain and coach in 2009.

"It was never a him-or-me scenario," he said.

"I said to [ECB chairman] Giles Clarke, in Chennai, in the room: 'Giles, please let me just go and bat. He can coach, no problem. Let me please just go and bat. I just cannot captain with this guy."'

PA

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