The England Cricket Board accused the Proteas of duping Kevin Pietersen into sending those text messages.

London – David Collier has apologised for his comment over Kevin Pietersen that threatened to cause a breakdown in relations between England and South Africa.

The ECB chief executive angered the South Africans last week by saying they provoked' the text-message affair that led to Pietersen being exiled from the England team in the biggest crisis the national side have faced in years.

Now, after South African players and their board had railed against Collier, the ECB's top man has backed down to avoid the threat of legal action that would have made his position near-untenable.

Daily Mail expects a joint statement to be released on Monday after talks between ECB chairman Giles Clarke and Cricket South Africa's acting president Dr Willie Basson. In it, they will attempt to draw the line under a saga that had reached its dying embers before Collier re-lit the fuse on the BBC's Sportsweek.

Both boards are expected to say that their teams play cricket to the highest ethical levels and that Collier was wrong to suggest the South Africans, who he accused of plotting against Pietersen, had done otherwise.

The boards are also due to say they differ in opinion on the events that led to the exchange of messages between Pietersen and some South Africa players but that the ECB now accept there was nothing underhand in the behaviour of the Proteas. The statement will also say that CSA accept Collier's apology.

Sportsmail broke the original story of the texts and understands Collier was wrong when he said that the South Africans were behind the scandal. He also showed poor judgment in speaking out when the affair was all but over.

Collier had kept a low profile since the Allen Stanford affair but was left in no doubt that the South African board directors were not prepared to back down without an official apology. That has now come.

Pietersen, meanwhile, will today begin his reintegration' process with the England team by meeting some of the team-mates he so upset by sending the BlackBerry Messenger messages.

Pietersen, who returned to action for Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League on Saturday with 14 against Kolkata Knight Riders, has flown back from South Africa for the first of his meetings with senior players and management.

The mood is unquestionably one of reconciliation now and unless something goes badly wrong Pietersen, as reported in Sportsmail, will return to the England squad for the Test tour of India that begins later this month. – Daily Mail