More players should defend England’s reputation, insists ex-skipper Gooch

Ross McLean
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FORMER Test captain Graham Gooch believes principal players from one of England’s most successful periods in history should defend the team dynamic which has come under sustained fire from Kevin Pietersen’s torrent of criticism.

Aside from short retorts from skipper Alastair Cook and Graeme Swann, there has been a lack of retaliation from those who guided England to the summit of the Test rankings during Andy Flower’s five-year tenure as coach.

Gooch, whose own international career spanned two decades, is adamant more players need to speak out and protect England’s reputation from that period.

“I believe Alastair and others should get on the front foot a bit more,” he said. “When you and your system are challenged you need to fight back, this sentiment is always expressed in team meetings, never take a backward step and have the courage of your convictions.

“If I was still part of that dressing room I would want to have my say.

“When the captain and coach stand up in the dressing room to give a speech, one of the strong messages is we fight the fight together. But if you’re not prepared to defend the culture in this sort of situation I don’t see what credibility the other stuff has.”

Gooch – England’s Test batting coach between 2009 and 2014 – dismisses Pietersen’s bullying allegations, believing there are contradictions within his tirades. He added: “The Brisbane Test was Kevin’s 100th and in his thank you speech he said it was the best team environment he’d ever played in.”