England Cricket’s Pietersen Apologizes for Criticizing Teammates

England batsman Kevin Pietersen apologized to the England and Wales Cricket Board for criticizing his teammates in “provocative” text messages to South Africa squad members.

Three days ago, Pietersen was left out of England’s squad for the third Test against South Africa, which starts tomorrow at Lord’s in London, after the texts critical of team captain Andrew Strauss came to light. England managing director Hugh Morris said further discussions were needed to see if the South African-born Pietersen could be added back to the team.

His exclusion came a day after he committed himself to the team, saying he’d play in all forms of the game, following a wrangle over his international career. In May, Pietersen said he’d only play Tests in the future. He’d wanted to pull out of 50-over one-day internationals and carry on with five-day Tests and Twenty20s but ECB contracts don’t allow that.

“I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends,” Pietersen said in a statement released by the ECB. “The texts were meant as banter between close friends. I need to rein myself in sometimes. I apologize 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.”

In the second Test at Leeds he scored 149 runs in the first innings as England went on to draw the game and trail 1-0 in the three-match series.

England needs to win the final match to retain its No. 1 Test ranking. South Africa won the opening match at the Oval in London by an innings and 12 runs.

Discussions

Last weekend the England and Wales Cricket Board said it held “several discussions” with Pietersen but had been unable to reach an agreement on his inclusion. It said one sticking point was that Pietersen wouldn’t admit that he sent derogatory text messages about England to South Africa players.

The Daily Mail reported that he had sent the texts during the last Test that contained “less than flattering” comments about Strauss and his teammates.

“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,” Morris said in the statement. “Critically, those discussions should take place behind closed doors, rather than in the media spotlight.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Elser in London at celser@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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