Andrew Flintoff believes Kevin Pietersen has been made a scapegoat for England's Ashes failure and questioned the team spirit in the camp after watching the treatment of his former colleague.

The England & Wales Cricket Board have effectively ended Pietersen's international career this week, with the oft-controversial but undeniably gifted batsman joining team director Andy Flower as a casualty of a miserable winter Down Under.

But former England captain Flintoff believes it is wrong to single out individuals, and claims it would not have happened in his day.

"The England teams I played in, the buzzword was always the 'group'," Flintoff told the Daily Mail. "That was the mantra, 'The group is close, the group is tight' - and when we were all doing well, that was true. The group stuck together because the group all wanted to take credit for victory and get their column inches in the newspaper.

"But it's when you're not doing well that you need team spirit, and I haven't seen too many people coming out and accepting responsibility for this one. The group doesn't seem to be a group any more. They've got one player who can take the blame and the rest of them want to go about their business and let him take the fall.

"It's not that we couldn't bowl them out, not that we couldn't score runs, not that we got outplayed - it's Kevin Pietersen's fault. I'd have more respect for some of the senior players if they held their hands up, rather than letting it all get heaped on one bloke."

Flintoff claimed players and officials were seeking to defend their own positions by putting the focus on others.

"If his attitude was that bad, why did he play five Tests?" he added. "Who made the decision to drop him? Do they genuinely believe we are better off without him, or are they just fearful for their own jobs and too afraid to say no? I can't imagine what Kevin could have done, or what the ECB could announce, that would allow this to make sense."