England news May 23, 2012

Pietersen fined for Twitter outburst

Kevin Pietersen has been fined an undisclosed sum for comments he made on Twitter about Nick Knight following a disciplinary hearing involving Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, and team director Andy Flower.

Pietersen has made no secret about his disagreements with Knight, the former England batsman who is now a Sky Sports commentator, and recently posted this remark. "Can somebody please tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for the Tests?? Ridiculous."

An ECB statement said: "The hearing considered recent comments made by Pietersen on Twitter to be prejudicial to the interests of the ECB and a breach of the England player conditions of employment in relation to clauses regarding public statements.

"Pietersen has been fined an undisclosed sum, part of which has been suspended for 12 months, in accordance with the terms and conditions of his England central contract."

Andrew Strauss, speaking ahead of the second Test against West Indies, said Twitter would throw up these situations. "There are always shades of grey," he told Sky Sports. "It does a really good publicising job but players can find themselves in hot water occasionally. There's a line they need to tread. You will get occasions when people slip up and they will be dealt with accordingly."

Pietersen's animosity is thought to originate from Knight's suggestion when his form was at its lowest that he was no longer worth a place in England's one-day side.

In January, Sky agreed a new four-year deal to show live international and county cricket believed to be worth about £280 million ($440 million) betrween 2013-17 with an option for a further two years. The deal provides the bulk of the ECB's income.

The ECB punishment of a player for rubbishing a member of the media is at the very least out of character, and perhaps unique. The justification is said to be that that Pietersen sinned for making a sweeping generalisation about Knight's ability as a commentator rather than attacking a specific comment.

Earlier this week Pietersen was asked whether he considered leaving Twitter. "No, not at all, no. I won't stop, no," he said.

It is the second time Pietersen has found himself in trouble over Twitter after he reacted to being dropped from the one-day squad in 2010 with an outburst which he said was meant to be sent as a private message to a friend. "Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20, and dropped from the T20 side too. It's a f**k-up ..." He was fined an undisclosed sum on that occasion, too.

In 2009 Tim Bresnan also caused controversy when he swore at a follower. He later apologised to Flower who said at the time: "If you are an England player you have obviously got to behave in a certain way It is pretty simple if you are on a public site like that - you have to behave yourself."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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