England captain Alastair Cook is "hurt" by accusations made in Kevin Pietersen's controversial book, believing they have "tarnished" the team's highly successful period under former captain Andrew Strauss.

Speaking for the first time since the release of Pietersen's book 'KP', Cook refuted the sacked batsman's allegations of a bullying culture in the England dressing room and said the furore caused has damaged the sport.

"I think it's been a really sad week for cricket. We have to draw a line under it at some stage and this is a good time," Cook told the BBC.

I think it's been a really sad week for cricket. We have to draw a line under it at some stage and this is a good time

Alastair Cook, England captain

"International cricket is a tough place and, as a team, you're striving for excellence at all times.

"Did it overstep the mark a couple of times? Possibly, but we addressed those issues. That's what happens in teams, but it certainly wasn't a bullying environment as such."

Pietersen was axed following the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia at the start of the year, with England inferring the South Africa-born batsman was not a team player. 

Both he and Cook were part of the Test side that topped the world rankings in 2011 under former captain Strauss, who led the team to back-to-back Ashes series wins.

Pietersen, who played in 104 Tests for England, labelled Flower as a "mood hoover" who was "contagiously sour" and  "infectiously dour" in the book that went on sale on Thursday.

Cook is most shocked by Pietersen's criticism of now deposed wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who is labelled in the book as
"back-stabbing".

"Matty is a great man and has been a fantastic servant to English cricket," Cook explained. "He has to be remembered as a guy who put his heart and soul on the line for England. The team was all that mattered to him."

Source: Reuters