London – Kevin Pietersen can save his international career by publicly apologising to his England team-mates following the texting controversy that cost him his place in the third Test against South Africa – but only if he does so before Saturday.
The revelation comes after a weekend of blood-letting, in which Pietersen failed to take the chance, offered by the ECB, to deny Daily Mail’s story about texts he sent to Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers.
Pietersen was then dropped for the Lord’s Test which begins on Thursday – a game England must win to keep their No 1 Test ranking. But in an interview uploaded to YouTube on Saturday, he stated his intention to play one-day international and Twenty20 cricket again, having retired from the formats in May. And he will be able to resume a full-time international career if he says sorry for bad-mouthing captain Andrew Strauss and criticising the atmosphere in the dressing room.
“The only route back for Kevin is reconciliation,” said an ECB source. “He has to put his hands up and say, ‘Sorry guys, I sent the texts, but it was in the heat of the moment’. The sanctity of that dressing room is so strong that the apology would have to be made publicly.”
England name their 15-man squad on Saturday for next month’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, where they will be defending their trophy. If Pietersen apologises before then, he could be named in the party.
The ECB are still seething after delaying the Test squad announcement by five hours on Sunday to give Pietersen the chance to sign a document — as exclusively revealed in Monday’s Daily Mail — denying he had sent derogatory texts.
In a meeting on Friday, Pietersen had denied it, but he backed down when asked to put his denial on paper. The advice Pietersen has been getting is sure to crop up on Wednesday at a pre-arranged meeting between ECB officials and England players’ agents. Meanwhile, the South Africans on Monday stuck to their line that the texts merely contained “banter”. Team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said: “We do not want to get ourselves involved in an issue that has nothing to do with us.”
And Pietersen still faces the wrath of several teammates. The texts revelation went down badly in the dressing room, prompting Matt Prior to talk to Pietersen at his own initiative. Soon after, Pietersen released his YouTube interview. Now, the ECB await his apology. – Daily Mail