The Kevin Pietersen crisis took yet another twist on Sunday when it became clear that the bitter divisions within the England team run deeper than ever.
Daily Mail revealed on Saturday that Pietersen lost his central contract after refusing to concede he had been totally in the wrong over the breakdown in relations with his teammates that shattered the team spirit coach Andy Flower holds so dear.
Pietersen still feels teammates were involved in the parody Twitter account that upset him so much and on Sunday it was alleged that the errant star believes Graeme Swann and Jimmy Anderson had an input into the ‘KPGenius’ account created by friend of the players Richard Bailey.
Stuart Broad has already been cleared by the ECB of having anything to do with the send-up of Pietersen’s ego and Daily Mail understands Swann and Anderson deny vehemently any involvement.
Yet the fact Anderson’s new autobiography, serialised in the Mail on Sunday, criticises the captaincy of both Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff is being offered as evidence of double standards by Pietersen supporters. It was the criticism of Andrew Strauss in messages sent by Pietersen to South Africa players that sparked this affair.
The ECB consider the Twitter business a side issue and accept that Broad, Anderson and Swann had nothing to do with it. That leaves Pietersen further away from a return to the fold than ever and almost certainly out of the Test squad to tour India, to be named later this week.
England, meanwhile, must on Monday decide whether they retain faith in Ravi Bopara, who is devoid of all confidence. Bopara’s woeful form since he returned from a domestic crisis – 28 runs in eight innings – reached a nadir at Durham when England’s decision to bat him at No 3 backfired in South Africa’s seven-wicket Twenty20 victory on Saturday.
England believe Bopara’s bowling will be extremely useful on Sri Lankan pitches in the World Twenty20 later this month but it is difficult to see how they can justify his inclusion in tonight’s match at Old Trafford.
England (probable): Hales, Kieswetter (wkt), Bopara (or Wright), Morgan, Bairstow, Buttler, Patel, Broad (capt), Swann, Finn, Dernbach.
South Africa (probable): Levi, Kallis, Du Plessis, De Villiers (capt and wkt), Duminy, Ontong, A Morkel, Botha, Peterson, Steyn, Tsotsobe.
Umpires: Richard Illingworth and Rob Bailey (Eng).
TV umpire: Michael Gough. – Daily Mail