England's Pietersen dilemma August 13, 2012

Pietersen clings to Twenty20 hope

The next significant date in the current dispute between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB is looming on Saturday with the deadline for England to name their World Twenty20 squad.

Confidential negotiations are still ongoing and Pietersen's representatives have not given up on him being considered for the squad if the situation is resolved.

Pietersen was dropped for the third Test against South Africa after failing to provide assurances that the text messages he sent to South African players were not derogatory towards team-mates, including Andrew Strauss, as has been alleged.

The ECB delayed naming the squad for the third Test by five hours to allow Pietersen time to clarify what was in the text messages but no reply was forthcoming. Pietersen, who on Saturday evening released a YouTube video stating his commitment to all cricket for England, responded by saying he was "gutted" to be dropped and wanted to continue his international career.

As with the Test squad the Twenty20 party was selected during a meeting at Edgbaston last week before Pietersen released his video announcing his commitment to all international cricket. Having previously retired from limited-overs cricket in June, Pietersen's name was not in the provisional 30-man list although that in itself does not preclude selection for the tournament.

However, given the tension surrounding both parties, led by Pietersen's refusal to confirm the content of text messages, it would appear a long shot for there to be a chance of resolution before the squad deadline. And, having made such a play of team spirit and unity with the decision to drop Pietersen, the selectors and Andy Flower will not be about to make any swift about turns.

When interviewed on Sunday Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, strongly hinted that the next stage in trying to reach a conclusion will come when the next round of contracts are issued in September, rather than for any imminent squads.

"The selectors will be considering contracts in the coming weeks and those recommendations will go to the board and it is up to them to have a look at this issue," he said.

There is potential for Pietersen to return to action this week for Surrey if he made himself available for the County Championship match against Middlesex. Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive, said they would be "happy" to have Pietersen if he felt ready to play but as of Monday afternoon had not heard anything.

South Africa, meanwhile, have continued to distance themselves from the ongoing situation and have repeated their statement that the ECB have not made any approach to them to reveal the content of the messages and that the comments were "banter".

"There have been untruthful allegations in the media implicating members of our squad in the current issue between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB," team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee, said. "We stand by the same stance we have taken since we heard the news about these allegations.

"Yes, text messages were sent but like we said before it was banter among team-mates, which is perfectly acceptable. The ECB has not made a formal approach to myself or any member of the team to see the text messages, as currently reported in the media.

"Allegations that Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were the recipients of the texts are unfounded. Until such time that the allegations are met with the correct facts and evidence, we shall not comment.

"The internal issue between Kevin Pietersen and the English cricket board has been publicised for weeks, even before we arrived in the UK and we don't want to get ourselves involved in an issue that has nothing to do with us."

Gary Kirsten, the South Africa coach, said the team's preparations for Lord's were no different. "We will focus on the work we do. We respect the opposition and will not take any Test match for granted. We will look at what the other team has and what areas we can exploit. We don't look too closely at individuals. It's no different to any other Test match."

The ECB, meanwhile, will want to find out why Pietersen went ahead with his YouTube video despite being advised otherwise and is unlikely to be impressed with his specific reference to having spoken to Delhi Daredevils, his IPL franchise, ahead of his announcement while seemingly not keeping his major employers in the loop and his presumption that he would play in "Straussy's 100th Test".

During the interview Pietersen also said he had had an hour-long clear-the-air conversation with a team-mate and the Daily Mail named Matt Prior as the player who attempted to be a go-between between Pietersen and Flower. At the moment, however, it is picking up the phone to the ECB that is Pietersen's only option.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo