Kevin Pietersen insists he never betrayed his former captain Andrew Strauss, in mobile messages he exchanged with England’s opponents South Africa.
Pietersen recalls, in his autobiography which will go on general sale this week, an expletive-ridden “dingdong” when Strauss rang to confront him with reports that he had been highly critical of his captain in private messages in the vexed summer of 2012.
But the superstar batsman claims he merely went along with rather than initiated any criticism of Strauss.
He is adamant that he gave away no team tactics during the Headingley Test, but admits he felt isolated in the harsh regime he depicts as being orchestrated by coach Andy Flower and policed by “the enforcer” Strauss.
Pietersen’s book also revisits his spat as captain with previous coach Peter Moores in the winter of 2008/09 – one which cost both their management role – as well as his account of his terminal axing by the England and Wales Cricket Board eight months ago.
Long before then, his career was controversial – as well as brilliant.
One of its low points was the revelation that he had sent ‘provocative’ messages about his captain to a still unnamed member of the opposition, from his and Strauss’ native South Africa.
“The next day Strauss called me on his own and we had a fine, big dingdong,” he writes.
“He accused me of having done it. I admitted I had been in communication with the South Africans, but it was nothing bad.
“‘These guys are friends. You guys have been treating me like s*** for three years. You’ve been acting like a d*** to me’.
“I went through example after example. The only thing I was guilty of was not defending my captain.”
Pietersen, 34, complains in his book about the “bullying” culture of the England team under Flower.
He added: “Then Straussy, the elder statesman, gave his view. Banter in private messages = huge issue. Bullying in the dressing room = princess-and-the-pea nonsense.
“They didn’t want me to speak to the South Africans – some of my closest friends.
“The Andys were very big on that. It was a typical Andy Flower tick-box exercise: no fraternising.
“Straussy, the enforcer, pulled me away from South African friends on a couple of occasions – embarrassing me.”
It was reported Pietersen used a South African insult – “doos” – about Strauss. He writes: “I didn’t disagree with the sentiment. It was a private message between mates letting off steam. Nobody writes a BBM expecting it to be analysed by millions of people. It was just chatter. He [the South Africa player] said that Strauss was carrying on like an idiot, and that was it.
“It was nothing that I wouldn’t actually say to Straussy myself, at the time or now. I have never and would never give any tactical information about my England team-mates to anyone on the opposing side.”
Kevin Pietersen questions Alastair Cook’s credentials to be England captain and has voiced his dismay at a “bullying” culture he believes has long undermined the national team.
Pietersen’s autobiography, released to the media yesterday and set to go on general sale on Thursday, reveals his despair at the regime overseen by former coach Andy Flower in which he claims cliques took root and exerted an overwhelming negative influence.
The record-breaking South African-born batsman, axed by the England and Wales Cricket Board eight months ago after the team’s whitewash Ashes defeat, is especially scathing about Flower and wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
He describes Cook as a “decent guy” but one “paralysed” by the situation he was put in.
Cook survived as captain following Flower’s move to a different job at the ECB and Pietersen’s sacking, and remains in situ alongside returning coach Peter Moores as England embark on a World Cup winter.
But Pietersen, free to tell his side of the story following the end last week of a confidentiality clause agreed as part of his severance with the ECB, fears Cook may not be the right man to help forge the ‘new era’.
His doubts are sown by what he perceives as the opener’s failure to repay the support he insists he gave his captain throughout last winter’s shambles.
“I was disappointed. I had gone out of my way to support him on the Ashes tour,” Pietersen writes in KP: The Autobiography.
“The next time I saw Cooky he was staring at his shoes while I was being told I would not be included in the England squads in the Caribbean or in the World T20.
“I was disappointed in him then. I thought the way he behaved called into question his qualifications to be captain. But I know too that he is a decent guy and that he was paralysed by how uncomfortable it all was.”
Pietersen spoke of his worries, in a pre-publication interview with the Daily Telegraph, that the ECB is in danger of “literally ruining [Cook’s] career”.
He added in his book: “Alastair Cook knows that on the Ashes tour there were absolutely no problems with me in the dressing room.
“Alastair Cook knows that I scored the most runs for England on that tour. Alastair Cook knows that I had his back 100 per cent.
“I know, though, that while Cooky is a nice man, he is also a company man. A safe pair of hands; he won’t rock the boat.”
Pietersen is disdainful about Flower – “Contagiously sour. Infectiously dour. He could walk into a room and suck all the joy out of it in five seconds” – and Prior.
He claims they were instrumental in allowing bullying to take hold, with the culture demanding that those who made errors in the field apologised to the bowler.
“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?”
Pietersen has little remaining respect either for ECB managing director Paul Downton, whose decision it was ultimately to agree the end of his stellar but controversial 10-year international career.
Pietersen blames Prior – “a bad influence … who picks on players” in the first instance.
“He’d been wearing a face that was half grief and half thunder [after being dropped], and then all of a sudden he was making a whole lot of noise in this players’ meeting. I had a problem with that.
“Then Prior said, ‘f*** Flower, this is not his team’.
“He said … ‘it’s not just our fault but the management’s too. They are creating an awful work environment. They treat us like schoolboys’.
“The spin ever since that day has been that I judged the atmosphere wrong. I don’t think I misread anything about the mood in that room.
“I said my piece, nothing anyone hadn’t heard before – including Andy Flower.”
Pakistan and Australia will focus on spin when they start a three-match one-day series in Sharjah on Tuesday, despite the absence of top bowler Saeed Ajmal, who is suspended over his suspect bowling action.
Pakistan have been hard pressed to compensate for the missing Ajmal, who has single-handedly won them matches in all three formats of the game in the last five years.
He was reported for a suspect bowling action on Pakistan's August tour of Sri Lanka and was subsequently banned from international cricket after a bio-mechanic analysis found his action illegal. Skipper Misbah-ul Haq stressed Pakistan must move on.
"It's really difficult to fill Ajmal's gap because he has been the number one or two bowler in the one-day rankings, but if Ajmal is not there we must try to fill his gap and move forward," said Misbah on Monday.
Pakistan have two left-arm spinners in the squad in Raza Hasan, who took 2-17 in Pakistan's six wicket defeat in the lone Twenty20 in Dubai on Sunday, and the experienced Zulfiqar Babar.
Pakistan will also miss all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who injured his hand on Saturday and will miss the limited over series.
But Misbah conceded that Pakistan will have to put runs on the board after being restricted to 96-9 in the Twenty20 match, with Australian spinners Glenn Maxwell (3-13) and Cameron Boyce (2-10) causing trouble.
"I think the Australian batsmen have improved against spin by playing in the Indian league. If it's spinning and the bowler puts it in the right areas, then its difficult for everyone, its tough and at the same time you have to bat well against their spinners," said Misbah.
Pakistan's batting will again be tested after their miserable show on the Sri Lankan tour where they lost the one-day series 2-1 and the Tests 2-0. Australia also are without their regular captain Michael Clarke who is facing a race against time to get fit from a hamstring injury for the two Tests which follow the one-dayers.
Also out are all-rounders Shane Watson (ankle) and Mitchell Marsh (hamstring). Skipper George Bailey said Pakistan will be tough even without Ajmal.
"There's no doubt he's been very important to Pakistan," said Bailey of Ajmal. "But Pakistan will be trying to prove they don't rely too much on him and it will pose different challenges (for us)."
Bailey accepted it will be a challenge to counter the spin. "I still think teams are doctoring their wickets when we come and play to produce very large spinning wickets, which says to me that teams still think that we're vulnerable against spin," Bailey said. "The challenge for us is to become good against spin."
Pakistan have not beaten Australia in a one-day series since winning 2-1 Down Under in 2002. Since then Australia have won three in a row in 2009 (UAE), 2010 (Australia) and 2012 (UAE).
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shahzad, Sami Aslam, Umar Akmal, Fawad Alam, Umar Amin, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Raza Hasan, Mohammad Irfan, Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Zulfiqar Babar
Australia: George Bailey (capt), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Phil Hughes, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Sean Abbott, Kane Richardson, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon
Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG) and Ahsan Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Nigel Llong (ENG)
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)