London: Denying Kevin Pietersen's claims that a bullying culture had flourished in the England dressing room in recent years, captain Alastair Cook says the maverick cricketer's controversial autobiography has "tarnished" one of the most successful eras for the national team.
"I'm very proud of that era we played in to win three Ashes series and become the best side in the world. I only have fond memories of that, but I do believe it's kind of been tarnished and I'm sad about that," Cook told 'BBC'.
"I think it's been a really sad week for cricket. We have to draw a line under it at some stage and this is a good time" the 29-year-old said.
The release of 'KP: The Autobiography' this week has been accompanied by controversy with former and current players either backing or criticising the former batsman's claims in the book.
Pietersen's international career effectively ended in February when his central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was terminated.
He scored 8,181 runs at an average of 47 in 104 Tests and captained England in three Tests.
A "hurt" Cook denied that a bullying culture flourished in the team in recent years.
"International cricket is a tough place and, as a team, you're striving for excellence at all times. Certainly at some stages those frustrations boiled over more than they should have done, but that was only people who were desperate to succeed and wanting to know the other 10 blokes around were committed 100 per cent to it also.
"Did it overstep the mark a couple of times? Possibly, but we addressed those issues. That's what happens in teams, but it certainly wasn't a bullying environment as such," Cook said.
Cook also did not agree with Pietersen's views about former coach Andy Flower.
"I've known Andy since he was a player in the Essex dressing room. He took me under his wing as a player and then obviously, your relationship changes as a coach to a player and then to a head coach and a captain.
"I've only got respect for him, as a man, as a coach. Chatting to some of the other players about it, they feel the same. A lot of our success was down to his drive and his determination to make us a tough England side.