FORMER cricket chief David Collier has rubbished assertions from maverick Kevin Pietersen that ex-coach Andy Flower was the root cause of a bullying culture within the England camp.
The South African-born batsman has accused Flower of building a regime in which he governed by fear, while also allowing bullying to prosper during his five-year reign at the helm of English cricket.
But Collier, who spent a decade as England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] chief executive before stepping down in the summer, dismisses this notion and insists he was never advised of any instances of bullying.
“Andy Flower has the most superb integrity,” said Collier. “There is no way we could have had the success over his long and successful period if there hadn’t been huge respect within that dressing room. “In any professional sport certain managers and leaders do have intensity from time to time. People that we respect as some of the greatest football managers have been known to be fairly robust in the dressing room. “In any professional sport players will get frustrated with each other, that’s a fact of life. I didn’t see that in any way affecting the team atmosphere. There were a huge number of opportunities for bullying to be reported but that never happened.”
Ex-England seamer Steve Harmison, who believes lines may have been crossed in the England set-up but stops short of citing bullying, is adamant Pietersen and Flower were on an early collision course.
“If Kevin didn’t rate you or like you, then he wasn’t interested,” said Harmison. “It goes back to 2008 when Andy Flower had been brought in as batting coach. Back then, he was KP the king, the captain, our best player and superstar. Andy was merely one of the ECB’s foot soldiers.
“Fast forward a couple of gears and Andy is the king, with three Ashes wins and a T20 World Cup victory, while Kevin is back to being a lowly player. They were bound to clash.”
England captain Alastair Cook broke his silence on Pietersen’s book by claiming false allegations of bullying have tarnished a golden era of English cricket.