London - Kevin Pietersen, banished to an uncertain future when he was dropped from the final Test at Lord’s for disciplinary reasons, issued a long-awaited apology on Tuesday night.
Pietersen finally said sorry to the England Cricket Board (ECB) for the furore that saw him axed for sending SMSes to his friends in the South African team criticising his captain Andrew Strauss and the atmosphere in the England dressing room.
Yet Sportsmail understands he stopped short of admitting the texts contained derogatory comments about Strauss, leaving England with a quandary as to whether they accept his apology in full and recall him immediately.
As Strauss broke his silence on the biggest controversy of his three-year captaincy to criticise Pietersen publicly, the gifted maverick made the first attempt at reconciliation when he gave the ECB a carefully worded statement expressing his regret over the affair.
The 32-year-old was dropped when he refused to sign a document denying that he had sent the SMSes, which were revealed by Sportsmail, even though he tried to rescue himself from the axe by coming out of one-day International retirement in a video posted on YouTube.
On Tuesday Sportsmail revealed the ECB had told him that, unless he apologised by Saturday, he would definitely be left out of England’s World Twenty20 squad for the defence of their crown in Sri Lanka next month.
He would also have been ruled out of the One-Day series against South Africa that follows the Lord’s Test which, in turn, would have made the road back to international cricket for Pietersen a very long one.
Now it seems the man who hit a magnificent 149 in the last Test at Headingley has seen sense and admitted his regret that it has all come to this after he first put the cat among the pigeons by saying the Lord’s Test might be his last because of dressing-room “politics”.
What happens next is far from certain. The selectors will have to decide whether to welcome Pietersen, man of the tournament when they won the World Twenty20 in Barbados two years ago, back into their squad when feelings are still running high.
An ECB source on Tuesday night told Sportsmail that a lot of bridges would have to be rebuilt for the saga to be over, despite Pietersen’s act of contrition.
Strauss in particular is said to be very upset about the SMSes.
England, mainly through Hugh Morris and Andy Flower, have shown strong management throughout the affair, even telling Surrey not to pick Pietersen for the current County Championship match against Middlesex. - Daily Mail