Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has spoken up in support of Kevin Pietersen's allegations of a "bullying" culture within the England team.
Pietersen, in one of several controversial claims in his recently-published autobiography, accused England's senior bowlers and wicketkeeper Matt Prior of aggressively demanding apologies from teammates not in their clique for any mistakes they made while fielding.
Graeme Swann, one of the bowlers singled out by Pietersen, said on Wednesday there was "absolutely no bullying" but Ponting, Australia's captain from 2004-11 supported the claims of England's all-time leading run-scorer.
"We saw them doing it, (James) Anderson was always the same, and Swann," Ponting told the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. "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 two most recent Test series between the arch-rivals - England's 2013 success and Australia's 2013/14 5-0 whitewash triumph on home spoil after which Pietersen was effectively sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
However, the 39-year-old - on the winning side in several Ashes series but the losing skipper in 2005, 2009 and 2010/11 - insisted the 'bullying' observed by former England captain Pietersen had been evident for some time.
Earlier, Michael Vaughan ridiculed a leaked ECB report into Pietersen's alleged misbehaviour during the Ashes whitewash in Australia. Vaughan derided the ECB document, telling Twitter he had "never read as much b------- in all my time".