Steve Harmison believes Ashley Giles missed out on the England coach's job because of his relationship with Kevin Pietersen and has backed up his former team-mate's claims that there was a culture of bullying in the dressing room.
Peter Moores was named as Andy Flower’s replacement in April and, in Harmison’s view, Giles was overlooked because of his support for Pietersen, who was sacked by the ECB eight months ago.
“I think that cost Ashley Giles the coach’s job,” the former bowler wrote in a column for the Newcastle Chronicle. “I saw Ash the other day and it’s great he is still in cricket with a great job at Lancashire, but his relationship with KP will have cost him the big one.
“He would have walked into that interview and told the ECB; ‘I know KP, I played with him and I’ll get the best from him. We need the guy.‘ That sealed his fate. The ECB should have been up-front with Ashley about their plans for Kevin.”
Pietersen alleged in his new book, which was released last week, that the wicket-keeper Matt Prior and senior bowlers Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann would force team-mates to apologise for misfields and dropped catches during matches.
While those accusations have been denied by Swann and Prior, Harmison said he was aware of divisions within the team and that not enough was done to stop it, although he did not feel that Pietersen was a victim of bullying despite his hurt over the controversial @KPgenius Twitter account.
“The culture of bullying, if you want to call it that, had to be nipped in the bud,” Harmison said. “It wasn’t. That was a big mistake. It was allowed to go on and on, until Kevin clearly believed the other senior players were against him. However, I struggle a bit to see Kevin Pietersen as a bullying victim. That’s hard to picture.
“I’m not saying he was a bully but I saw the way he could behave towards guys that ‘weren’t up to it’. He didn’t give James Taylor or Michael Carberry much of a chance. KP wasn’t afraid to criticise.”
Harmison said he did not like the way some players behaved. “I saw plenty of bowlers have a real go at a team-mate for a dropped catch or a misfield,” he said. “I was never a fan of that. Is that bullying? I’m not so sure.”
But David Collier, the former chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), told BBC Radio Five Live it would not have been possible for England to enjoy so much success over the last decade had Pietersen’s claims had any substance to them.
“No accusation of bullying was ever made to me,” he said. “In any professional sport certain managers and leaders do have intensity from time to time. Andy [Flower] is an intensely passionate man, he has the most superb integrity.” – Guardian service