Graham Thorpe yesterday responded to accusations by David Lloyd that he was not a good influence on the team, and claimed he is being used to foster publicity and increase sales of the former England coach's new autobiography.
Lloyd criticises several leading players, including Thorpe, the captain Nasser Hussain and Andy Caddick in his new book, Anything but Murder, which is published today.
Lloyd claims Thorpe has "a rebellious streak" and that Hussain's preparations for a Test match on his own were "disruptive to any team planning", while he believes Caddick was "insecure about his cricket" and claimed that "responsibility appears to intimidate him".
Such dressing-room revelations have been criticised in the past but Lloyd, now a commentator with Sky television, said he did not intend to upset the players. "I've been taken a little bit by surprise by the criticism of the reference to players," he said. "I have not gone out to pick a fight with any particular player and I would hope that the player would say that any criticism is about right. All I've done is put my observations of dealing with those players.
"I've still got a terrific affection for the players because I know what they put in. I never had any intention of rubbishing the players, I was just trying to bring out the idiosyncrasies that affect international sportsmen."
But Thorpe yesterday said: "To be honest I am a little bit disappointed with him for making me out to be some sort of bad person. I thought we got on pretty well and he never said anything like this to my face. It seems to me I am being made a fall guy for him to make a few quid out of this book."
David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, even called Thorpe at home yesterday, where he was recovering from a suspected broken bone in his thumb after being hit in the nets at The Oval, to reassure him that he had been overlooked for Thursday's opening Test against Zimbabwe for purely cricketing reasons. Graveney said: "I felt it was important to tell Graham that cricket has been the only consideration in leaving him out, but that he was still part of our plans.
"He has admitted himself that by taking the winter off he has put himself down the pecking order. He has to scrap for his place like everyone else and he has not been in the best of form for Surrey this season."
Thorpe appreciated the call. "I know I'm not playing that well at the moment and I have no qualms about being left out, but if I thought there were non-cricketing reasons for my omission then I'd be upset," he said.
Anything but Murder - The Autobiography by David Lloyd (Harper Collins, £16.99).