Collier believes South Africa were playing mind games with Pietersen
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive David Collier has claimed that batsman Kevin Pietersen was made to send derogatory text messages about his team-mates this summer after being “provoked” by members of the South African team.
Pietersen was dropped for the entire summer period for sending derogatory text messages, but recently signed a new four-month central contract, and has promised to complete a reintegration process.
Initially, there were reports that Pietersen had also shared tactical information with the South African players about how to get former Test captain Andrew Strauss out, but after a thorough investigation, these allegations have been denied.
Speaking about the issue for the first time, Collier stated that this rumour had been deliberately started by the South African camp in order to unsettle Pietersen during the Test series.
Speaking exclusively on BBC Radio 5, Collier said: “That’s our understanding, it is a very thin line between fair and unfair. These were responses to messages from certain members of the South Africa team and I would not condone an England player doing it if it was the other way around, and I certainly think they provoked the situation.”
However, Collier also noted that situation should have been handled better by the entire team management.
“There was definitely a policy that was happening but we shouldn’t blame the South Africans, we should be above that, I think there was a tactic which was used. I think that is sadly some of the ways of modern sport but as I say we have plenty of people who are strong in the dressing room who provide very good leadership who can deal with those situations,” Collier added.
Collier further mentioned that Pietersen’s BlackBerry had been checked thoroughly and no evidence of tactical information being sent had been found.
“Those messages were of a nature that Kevin, with definite hindsight, would have refuted straight away and moved on. It is trying to undermine another team and another team ethic,” Collier said.
In response to the accusations put forward by Collier, Cricket South Africa (CSA) labelled his comments as “banter” and a representative of the cricket board said: “That is rubbish. That is not the case at all. No one was trying to rile KP.”
Since Pietersen has signed a new contract, he could make his England return during the upcoming Test series against India later this month.
In the end whether Pietersen will play in India or not will come down to coach Andy Flower, who admitted that it “hadn’t been a great couple of months”.
However, Collier stated that he would fully support the decision Flower made.
“When Andy Flower says to me ‘I am ready to select this player’ I would trust his judgement every single time. If the team director says he is ready, that is good enough for me,” Collier said. “It takes two seconds to destroy a building and it takes a long time to build it, it is the same with trust therefore we have to have face-to-face meetings. We have an Ashes series and we don’t want a divided dressing room, we want to make sure we can move collectively. People can’t build relationships without meetings – that is the starting point. They will happen this month and Giles Clarke met Kevin earlier this week. The meeting had this week was described by both sides as cordial – direct but cordial. It is important to be honest and say our concerns and allow Kevin to say what his concerns were,” Collier said.