Kevin Pietersen 'settles scores and reopens wounds'

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen's relationship with former captain Andrew Strauss turned sour

Kevin Pietersen's book release and its turbulent aftermath is the culmination of a deeply unpleasant six months for English cricket.

Much of this could, and should, have been avoided if matters had been dealt with when Pietersen and England parted company in February.

But instead we had the dreaded confidentiality clause, which allowed the issue to lurk in the background all summer before this week's stream of revelations.

Sadly, I don't think the blood-letting is over yet. Graeme Swann has had his sayexternal-link in his newspaper column today, but several of the other people who have been criticised in Pietersen's book - such as Matt Prior, Andy Flower and Stuart Broad - might well be tempted to exercise their right of reply.

Kevin Pietersen - Full BBC Breakfast interview

My view, having read the book and listened to Pietersen's interviews this week, is that the opinions on both sides of the debate will simply be entrenched further.

Those who consider him to be a misunderstood genius that everyone was out to get will feel they are justified. And those who felt he wanted the world to revolve around him, that everything should be done on his own terms, will find plenty of material to back up that view, too.

Of course, his version of events had to be given but, personally, I would like to have read much more about his great innings, the joy of playing and winning four Ashes series' for England and becoming number one in the world.

How did he prepare to face the best bowlers of his time? And what about the development of his team-mates, such as Swann, James Anderson, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.

But that is not on offer. Instead it is a stream of unhappiness, suspicion and accusations.

Pietersen seeks an ulterior motive in everything, and usually succeeds in finding one. While I think he has reason to harbour suspicion of some team-mates - and they of him - after the summer of 2012, he believes that people were out to get him from the start.

Pietersen's views on the England set-up
On former coach Andy Flower: "He built a regime, he didn't build a team. I've told him this before. I told him during his coaching reign."
On wicketkeeper and former vice-captain Matt Prior: "He's back-stabbing, he's horrendous, he's bad for the environment."
On senior players such as James Anderson and Stuart Broad: "The bowlers were given so much power. But these guys ran the dressing room."
On learning of a parody Twitter account of him: "I got told by a senior player that the account was being run from inside our dressing room. I was completely broken, absolutely finished, mentally shot."

One example would be in 2008 in India, during Pietersen's third Test match as captain. England had lost the previous match and Flower, who was assistant coach, asked his skipper if at any time he would like some help and advice from a former international captain and batsman, he only had to ask it of him.

Somehow, Pietersen saw an ulterior motive in this. He viewed it as "a corporate move: deputy CEO Flower has been designated to use a limited amount of empathy with a talented but troubled employee". Actually, it sounds as if he was trying to help, Kevin.

After the 'Textgate' affair in 2012, Pietersen probably had good reason to be wary. The recently-leaked briefing document of the ECB illustrates the level to which he was being monitored last winter. But the constant feeling of victimisation throughout his career is harder to justify.

He wanted his wife to come out on tour at a different time to everyone else; he wanted to fly home from the West Indies for a few days to be with his family; he wanted to play an Indian Premier League match in between two home Test matches.

Kevin Pietersen
Prior (left) comes in for extensive criticism in Pietersen's book

He must have known deep down that the answer to all of these questions would be no, but he reacted angrily to the inevitable rebuttals and his relationship with Andrew Strauss soured as a result. "Right Straussy, if this is the way you want things to go..." he wrote of his captain after one such incident.

On the first page, Pietersen likens himself to a soldier marching to a different step to the rest. But someone does have to get that column of soldiers marching in step, and that someone is the coach.

That Flower managed to do so, culminating in the success he achieved, is therefore remarkable. But he will find no credit here. "I'm telling you, I know you are a dreadful coach not by how you won, but how you lost," Pietersen wrote of Flower.

The parody Twitter account is clearly the thing that most distressed Pietersen. Initially he seemed happy to play along with it, until he suspected that one or more of his team-mates were involved - not in running the account, as he has suggested, but in contributing information to it.

Kevin Pietersen's England highs & lows

It seems as if this, and a general unhappiness - "It's tough being me" - is his justification for the texts he sent to the South Africans.

That will not wash with his team-mates and, judging by Strauss's lapse behind the microphone this summer, he is clearly still deeply wounded by it. Those messages remain Pietersen's Achilles heel and that key incident is not clearly explained.

I entirely agree with his comments about the bowlers attacking fielders for making mistakes, and have said so for more than a year. It is counter-productive and entirely unnecessary. No one means to misfield, or drop a catch.

Pietersen alludes to a bullying culture in the dressing room from a clique containing the bowlers and Prior. If so, that is entirely unhealthy and Pietersen is quite right to highlight it. But then to launch into such a brutal character assassination of Prior throughout the book is surely no better?

So scores are settled and wounds reopened. It has been that sort of summer.

Maybe when the dust finally settles on this book, Pietersen might consider another in which he addresses all that is missing here. He might by then reflect more happily on his outstanding career that brought such pleasure to so many, and how fortunate he was to have experienced it.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham