Former England teammate Graeme Swann began the backlash against Kevin Pietersen’s new book by labelling it “the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne”.
Speaking at an awards ceremony at Lord’s, Swann denied accusations that he was part of a clique of bowlers guilty of what Pietersen called “mocking, ridicule, bullying”.
Kevin has been quite clever because the guys still playing he has left alone and he hopes to get back in again one day
The South African-born batsman also included wicketkeeper Matt Prior in his criticism of England Test players.
“I expected it to be the biggest work of fiction since Jules Verne and that seems to have happened. The one thing I will say is that I immediately realised it was codswallop when I read the character assassination of Prior,” Swann was quoted as saying in the Telegraph.
“Tragically I don’t think Kev realises the one person who fought tooth and nail to keep him in the side is the one person he is now assassinating: Prior.”
Pietersen wrote in the book, “KP: The Autobiography”, that Prior was a “schoolyard bully who was also the teacher’s pet”, and accuses him of “back-stabbing”.
But Swann, the off-spinner who retired in December 2013, added: “Kevin has been quite clever because the guys still playing he has left alone and he hopes to get back in again one day.
“He has picked on people who he thinks can’t answer back. If that (bullying) was the case a lot of people would have flagged it up before.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board, whose managing director Paul Downton is also heavily criticised in the book, declined to comment.