Seven years ago Kevin Pietersen produced his first attempt at autobiography, Crossing the Boundary: The Early Years in My Cricketing Life. Atrociously written, it demonstrated no awareness of the world outside himself.
This time round Mr Pietersen has taken the precaution of hiring an excellent ghost writer, David Walsh of the Sunday Times. It is hard to overpraise Mr Walsh’s vivid prose. The book is a brilliant portrayal of Pietersen as a misunderstood genius continually brought down by lesser men: a Mozart beset by a sequence of Salieris.
Three of his England teammates fare especially badly: Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Matt Prior. He describes their behaviour as egotistical, bullying and treacherous. They undermined him repeatedly with management, the media and the public, and left him depressed and isolated within the team. Meanwhile he got no support from his two captains: Andrew Strauss was out of touch and Alastair Cook a yes-man. ECB officials were self-interested and hypocritical. They regularly briefed against him and disclosed confidential discussions.
His harshest words, however, are reserved for two England managers, Peter Moores and Andy Flower. Both were control freaks, box-tickers and micro-managers who refused to let their players enjoy or express themselves. Flower (says Pietersen) ‘ruled by fear’.
The book has almost no description of actual cricket, although it is over 300 pages long. Instead, each chapter describes some new torment for Pietersen at someone else’s hands. In one, two ECB officials, Paul Downton and James Whitaker, blame him for England’s 0-5 whitewash in Australia last winter. Then, flashing backwards, he is worn down by Peter Moores and unfairly sacked as England captain in a self-seeking manoeuvre by another ECB official, Hugh Morris, and the media turn on him. He is then betrayed by Paul Newman of the Daily Mail.