Cricket: Pietersen apologies for 'provocative' texts

Kevin Pietersen apologised on Wednesday for sending "provocative" text messages to South African players but team officials said it was too soon to say if he had a future as an England player.

Last weekend, star batsman Pietersen was dramatically dropped from the squad for this week's third and final Test at Lord's, despite scoring a superb 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley.

Pietersen was axed for failing to reveal the contents of those text messages, some of which were said to contain criticisms of England captain Andrew Strauss.

South Africa-born Pietersen, in an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement, admitted: "I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends in the SA team.

"The texts were meant as banter between close friends. I need to rein myself in sometimes. I apologise to Straussy and the team for the inappropriate remarks at the press conference and for the texts.

"I truly didn't mean to cause upset or tension particularly with important games at stake."

England managing director Hugh Morris said: "We are in receipt of Kevin's apology but 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.

"Critically, those discussions should take place behind closed doors, rather than in the media spotlight.

"A successful conclusion to this process is in everyone's best interests and is required for Kevin Pietersen's potential selection in all forms of the game to be considered."

Morris added they were now focusing on the match and would not make any further comment "until such time as is appropriate".

Strauss, for whom the match at Lord's, his Middlesex home ground, will be his 100th Test and 50th as captain, said the selectors had made a "brave and correct decision" to omit Pietersen.

But he added it was impossible to say whether the 32-year-old Pietersen would play for England again.

"Who knows what's going to happen in the future? It's a bit of a process that we all have to go through," Strauss said.

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

England go into the game starting Thursday 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 number one Test side.

Tensions between Pietersen, whose 21 Tests hundreds leave him one shy of England's all-time record, and the ECB have been escalating for months.

The former England captain retired from limited overs internationals after officials refused his wish to opt out of 50-over matches while still playing Twenty20s.

Then came an extraordinary press conference after he was named man-of-the-match at Headingley, where Pietersen speculated the match at Lord's might be his "last Test".

And last week, on the eve of the squad announcement for Lord's, he took to YouTube to insist he was now available to play for England in all formats.

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 World Twenty20, due to be announced Saturday.

Pietersen was England's man of the tournament when they became World Twenty20 champions in the Caribbean two years ago -- the first time they had won an International Cricket Council tournament.

Pietersen averages nearly 50 in Tests and is a world-class player.

By contrast Jonathan Bairstow, the man who will 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 under 13.

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