London - Kevin Pietersen lashed out at Matt Prior on Friday as the controversial batsman labelled his former England team-mate a 'big cheese'.
Pietersen, who has been axed by England after a turbulent Ashes tour, took his cheeky swipe in response to Prior's suggestion the England dressing room would be a better place without their flamboyant star.
Prior had already been accused of having “stabbed (Pietersen) in the back” during the Ashes by journalist Piers Morgan, a friend of the South Africa-born batsman.
At the time, Sussex wicketkeeper Prior dismissed Morgan's take on events, but on Thursday he was reported to have welcomed news that Pietersen would no longer be playing international cricket.
The tit-for-tat exchange appeared to hint at the simmering disharmony which has reportedly existed within the England ranks.
According to reports, Prior made his comment about Pietersen at a question-and-answer session in Dubai, insisting England needed players with passion for the cause in their team.
Pietersen responded by mocking his old middle-order colleague's recent form, labelling him 'The Big Cheese'.
“Fewer Q&A's, more Sussex nets methinks,” Pietersen wrote on Twitter.
Pietersen, whose international career was effectively ended by the England and Wales Cricket Board's decision to “start the rebuilding process” without him on returning from Australia, then responded to a number of replies to his initial tweet.
One urged him to “be strong”, and Pietersen said: “I'm always strong! The Big Cheese won't be happy in the Sussex nets...haha.”
When another Twitter user suggested Pietersen's initial comment was “why KP isn't in the England set up any more”, the 33-year-old said: “neither is The Big Cheese Prior!”
Former England spinner Graeme Swann, who quit the national team during the recent Ashes tour, joined the debate, suggesting both Prior and Pietersen would have been better served discussing their issues on the phone, instead of in public.
Swann told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think Matt's been a bit naive doing a Q&A in Dubai...you're never safe in these things. But Kevin has come back in a fairly childish way.
“I'm sure he (Pietersen) has still got his (Prior's) mobile number and could have rung him. But public spats are the new thing.”