Kevin Pietersen uses book launch to claim ECB ‘assassinated’ his character

After years of character assassination, Kevin Pietersen told an audience in Manchester last night that it was finally his chance to tell the other side of the story.

Never one to shy away, the former England batsman reiterated all of the eyebrow-raising claims he made in his autobiography out this week, which have caused a media storm around the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Pietersen’s interviewer didn’t waste time in drawing him into talking about the much-discussed atmosphere within the England dressing room.

Pietersen said: “You’re playing cricket for your country, you should be doing something that you love with freedom and the ability to enjoy yourself and give it your best shot.

“There is no way in this world you should be doing it in fear of your own teammates, being scared to field a ball or drop a catch.”

Around 300 people turned up to see the man himself speak, including ECB representatives, and the event organisers couldn’t have chosen a more eerily appropriate venue if they had tried.

The cavernous Gorton Monastery, in which a gigantic crucifix hung above Pietersen’s head as he spoke, was perfect for a player who sees himself as a Christ-like figure.

Despite being England’s highest-ever run scorer, as he mentions more than once, Pietersen feels he was hung out to dry by the ECB.

The 34-year-old said: “My character has been assassinated for five or six years on a regular basis through the ECB press machine.

“If I see things that aren’t going the way I think they should be I’m never ever afraid to ask the question why. I’m never afraid to voice an opinion.”

To be fair to Pietersen, his persona as something of an outsider within the England camp did make it easy for him to be made a scapegoat.

The combination of being South African-born and his maverick style of batting always set him apart, building a narrative of being disinterested and disengaged with the rest of the team.

While he was portrayed as egotistical by the media, he said, there were far bigger big-heads in that dressing room, an entirely believable claim.




He said: “The double standards in the England dressing room was something that I needed to talk about because I was the one labelled as selfish, I was the one labelled as having an ego.

“But if there was a competition for egos in the dressing room I wouldn’t have even been on the podium. That’s a fact.”

Before wrapping up with a lengthy autograph session, Pietersen touched on the ‘textgate’ scandal, but vehemently denied he ever sent South African players tactical information about his captain, Andrew Strauss.

“That’s quite funny. South Africa had the greatest bowling attack in the world. There’s no chance I would do that, it’s just silly. It just hits to the heart of my professionalism,” he said.

“And second of all, I think if Straussy turned up here and organised a cricket match everybody would know how to get him out. You bowl around the wicket and try to and try to take it away from him so he’ll nick it on.”

Pietersen closed the evening by reading out the last line of his book, which he believes typifies his character, and how he played his cricket for England.

“Play it safe, play it safe. Oh what the hell, swing for the rooftops.”

Main image courtesy of ESPN UK via YouTube, with thanks.

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