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LONDON: Kevin Pietersen has been dropped from England’s squad for the third Test against SA after the controversial cricketer was caught up in a text message row.
England’s selectors made their decision to axe Pietersen following reports he sent text messages to several SA players during the second Test at Headingley that were believed to contain derogatory comments about English captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.
Jonny Bairstow has been selected in place of Pietersen, whose involvement in the final Test at Lord’s, which England must win to draw the series and retain their place on top of the world rankings, had been in doubt throughout a dramatic week.
SA-born Pietersen suggested after the second Test that he might walk away from the sport at the end of the current series because he had grown disillusioned with what he perceived as problems in the England squad.
But on Saturday night he appeared to have a change of heart when he posted a video on YouTube in which he agreed to make himself available again for his adopted country in all formats after recently opting out of one-day action.
That wasn’t enough to convince the selectors though, who remained furious about the texting controversy, and Pietersen’s international career now looks in tatters.
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England Cricket, said:
“During the past week we have held several discussions with Kevin Pietersen and his
advisers. Following a constructive meeting it was agreed that a number of actions needed to be completed to re-engage Kevin within the England dressing room.
“A fundamental item was to confirm publicly that no derogatory texts had been sent by Kevin to the South African team.”
England’s selectors delayed naming their 13-man squad by an extra five hours yesterday to allow Pietersen extra time to publicly declare he did not send critical texts to the SA team.
But it seems he refused to bow to the request and that has cost the 32-year-old his place despite his dashing century at Headingley.
Pietersen has proved a divisive presence in the England dressing room this year following his much-debated decision to quit limited overs cricket, and teammate Jimmy Anderson used his newspaper column yesterday to suggest the controversy had played a key role in the team’s poor performances against SA.
Late yesterday Pietersen insisted his England career was not over by releasing a statement that made it clear he would continue to make himself available for selection.
“I am hugely disappointed that the ECB have decided not to select me. To say I am gutted is an understatement,” Pietersen said. “This entire episode has been demoralising for me and my family. However, none of this constitutes the end of my career as an international cricketer.
“The fact is I love England, and I love cricket. I wish the team, and Straussy in particular, every success next week.”