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Pietersen thinks social media outrage would have ‘ruined’ Atherton

Batsman felt sorry for disgraced Australia skipper Steve Smith.

Kevin Pietersen has claimed former England captain Mike Atherton’s career would have been “ruined” by a ball-tampering scandal had social media existed in the 1990s.

Atherton was fined £2,000 after being accused of using dirt in his pocket to alter the condition of the ball during the Lord’s Test against South Africa in 1994, sparking widespread condemnation, but ultimately not the loss of his job.

However, having witnessed the furore and outcome of the scandal which has engulfed Australian cricket in recent weeks, Pietersen pointed to the role of social media.

Writing in the Spectator, he said: “Seeing Steve Smith crying on TV the other day, I really felt for him and the others caught up in the Australian ball-tampering controversy.

“They’ve made mistakes, but the whole thing has shown the power of social media. The anger and the animosity from the Australian public, and the global community, wouldn’t have been as severe without Twitter and Facebook.

“If social media had been around for Mike Atherton’s ball-tampering scandal in 1994, he would have been ruined.”

Pietersen, who scored 8,181 Test runs and a further 4,440 in one day internationals and 1,176 in Twenty20 cricket for England, is now retired having seen his international career end prematurely in 2014 after being told his services were no longer required.

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England Ashes Squad Announcement – Kia Oval

Having conducted something of a love-hate relationship with the media during his playing days, he admitted he enjoyed some of the coverage of his retirement, and in particular a tribute from current director of England cricket Andrew Strauss.

He said: “Still, I was flabbergasted to read Andrew Strauss say I was the best cricketer he’d played with. He was the one who made me stop!

“A couple of my buddies were fuming, but I laughed and told them not to worry about it. There’s so much water under the bridge now. It’s gone.”

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