Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has added weight to Kevin Pietersen’s claims that a ‘bullying’ culture existed in the England team set-up.
Among a series of controversial revelations in his new autobiography, Pietersen claimed a clique led by the bowlers made life tough for younger players by demanding apologies for any mistakes they made in the field.
One of the bowlers referred to, Graeme Swann, has hit back by branding Pietersen’s book as “codswallap” and claiming “there was absolutely no bullying”.
But Ponting, who captained Australia between 2004 and 2011, has appeared to back up Pietersen’s statements by saying he witnessed the haranguing of fielders at close quarters.
Ponting told Australia’s The Daily Telegraph: “We saw them doing it, (James) Anderson was always the same, and Swann.
“The pointing of fingers and you’d hear a few expletives if there was a misfield or a dropped catch.
“The guys who were doing it were the so-called leaders. That’s where the captain has got to come in, not wait and let little things turn into big things. That’s what it sounds like has happened in this England team.”
Ponting was not involved in the back-to-back Ashes series of 2013 and 2014, which culminated in England’s 5-0 hammering in Australia last winter and saw Pietersen sacked in the aftermath.
But the 39-year-old did captain Australia in four previous series and says evidence of bullying had been there some time.
He said: “They had a lot of very good players that were able to achieve a lot of success as a team.
“But if you could just get inside of them and start pulling them apart, we always had a feeling they would implode pretty quickly and that’s what’s happened over the past 12 months.
“I wasn’t surprised with (Jonathan) Trott (leaving the Ashes tour), I wasn’t surprised with Swann retiring when he did. When the ship started to go down, he jumped off pretty quickly, and now all the Pietersen stuff.”