x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kevin Pietersen apologises to England teammates over 'provocative' South Africa texts

The ECB are set for further talks with Pietersen after he apologised over sending texts to friends in the South African camp, insisting he did not 'mean to cause upset or tension' to his colleagues.

Kevin Pietersen on England duty in Dubai earlier this year.
Kevin Pietersen on England duty in Dubai earlier this year.

LONDON, UK // The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed it has received an apology from Kevin Pietersen over 'provocative' texts sent to South African players.

The Delhi Daredevils star admitted sending texts about England skipper Andrew Strauss to friends in the South African camp - leading to him being dropped for this weekend's crucial third test.

Pietersen said in his apology to the England team: "I truly didn't mean to cause upset or tension particularly with important games at stake."

But England cricket managing director Hugh Morris confirmed they had received the apology, but insisted further talks were needed between the board and the player to establish "trust and mutual respect" once more.

"Further discussions need to take place to establish whether it is possible to regain the trust and mutual respect required to ensure all parties are able to focus on playing cricket and to maintain the unity of purpose that has served us so well in recent years," he said in a statement.

"Critically, those discussions should take place behind closed doors, rather than in the media spotlight. At the moment we have an important Investec Test match to focus on and therefore ECB will make no further comment until such time as is appropriate."

Jonny Bairstow was called into the England squad to replace Pietersen, just a day after he published a video on YouTube reversing his decision to make himself unavailable for limited-overs cricket with England.

England cricket chiefs, however, wanted assurances from Pietersen before announcing the squad on Sunday that he had not sent the texts about Strauss - and dropped him when he did not provide them.

Pietersen said in his statement that he apologised to Strauss and his teammates for the comments made in the texts, and in a press conference last week where he hinted he may retire from Test cricket.

"The texts were meant as banter between close friends," he said.  "I need to rein myself in sometimes.

"I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends in the South Africa team.  I apologise to Straussy and the team for the inappropriate remarks at the press conference and for the texts."

While his apology came too late for him to be selected for the third Test, it may help him be included in England's squad for the defence of their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka next month, when it is announced on Saturday.

Strauss said it was impossible to say whether the 32-year-old Pietersen would play for England again.

"I'm not willing to state one way or another whether it's going to be possible or impossible on that matter," the captain said.

"He is a world-class player and no one will deny that, when he is playing well and happy in the dressing room he is a great asset, but that's not where we are at the moment.

"The selectors made a brave and correct decision with the issues we need to resolve, it would have been untenable to have him in the squad."

Pietersen averages almost 50 in Test cricket and his hundred earlier this month was his 21st.

By contrast Jonathan Bairstow, set to replace him at Lord's, was dropped after playing his first three Tests against the West Indies earlier this season and has an average of 13.

Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, said England would miss Pietersen and denied his side had fanned the flames of the controversy.

"It is between Kevin and the ECB. People are trying to say we have been involved but our manager has made it clear throughout what has been going on.

"KP is a world class player ... No doubt he is a big loss but obviously, there is a talent pool in English cricket, so whoever comes in we will respect in the same way we respect Kevin."

England go into the game starting 1-0 down in the three-match series and need to win if they are to prevent South Africa replacing them as the world's No 1 Test side, a position they have held for the last 12 months since they defeated India 4-0 on home turf.

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