England's Pietersen dilemma October 7, 2012

SA 'provoked' Pietersen - Collier

ESPNcricinfo staff

David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has claimed that members of the South Africa squad "provoked" Kevin Pietersen into the exchange of messages that led to him being dropped by England earlier this summer.

Last week, the ECB announced a process of "reintegration" for Pietersen following his exile from the team during the summer after it was revealed he had sent provocative messages to the South Africans. Initially it was claimed these included tactical advice on how to dismiss Andrew Strauss although this has since been denied.

Speaking for the first time about the issue, Collier said the belief was that it was instigated by the South Africans as a tactic to unsettle Pietersen. "That's our understanding," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme. "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 added that the situation should have been handled better within the dressing room. "There was definitely a policy that was happening but we shouldn't blame the South Africans, we should be above that," he said. "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 said he had not seen the Blackberry messages at the centre of the controversy - and no evidence of them is believed to remain - but that it was an attempt to disrupt the team ethic.

"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."

Cricket South Africa described the messages as "banter" when the story first emerged in August and a representative of CSA denied Collier's new claims: "That is rubbish. That is not the case at all. No one was trying to rile KP."

Pietersen has not played for England since the second Test against South Africa at Headingley, where he scored 149 and followed it with a press conference where he hinted at a split in the dressing room. The process has now started to bring him back into the fold, possibly for the Test series against India which starts next month, while a series of meetings are due to be held between Pietersen and senior England players in the coming weeks.

The final decision of when Pietersen is recalled now rests in the hands of Andy Flower, the team director, who admitted it "hadn't been a great couple of months". Pietersen is due to fly back from the Champions League T20 for discussions ahead of England's training camp in Dubai in a couple of week's time and Collier has complete trust in Flower's judgement.

"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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on October 9, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    Beginning to think the ECB / KP are as bad as each other. I thought that all this time they (ECB) were trying to come to an agreement that nothing like this would ever happen again. Yesterday ECB were saying they believed the texts weren't derogatory and now Collier seems to be saying KP was provoked/manipulated by SA players into sending them texts which now are not believed to be derogatory etc.So if they weren't derogatory A - why did KP not come forward at the time and B - If ECB believed they were derogatory when it all happened why do they believe they aren't now? I mean SA player(s) have obviously done their bit in stirring it but KP sent the texts and if there was nothing wrong with the texts then A - What is KP apologising for? B - What is Collier on about re him being provoked if he didn't respond with anything derogatory? C - Maybe KP is owed the apology after all ,although I don't buy that there was nothing derogatory in the texts. Nothing adds up. Please publish this time

  • John on October 9, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    I like the way Collier said the messages etc were " an attempt to disrupt the team ethic ". I like the way he says the word attempt - like it didn't work.

  • Deepak on October 8, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    This is simply baseless..As if there is no way SA cud have got Strauss out..When they can get players like Sachin ,Ponting and Hussey out i think they can do just fine on their own to dismiss Strauss someone who we all know is not better than any of these or many other players..

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2012, 2:42 GMT

    I don't believe that any team under Gary Kirsten would resort to this kind of gamesmanship. But, so what if they did? If KP wasn't ready to go off the reservation at the first opportunity then this wouldn't be an issue. The ECB have a hand grenade in KP that they have handled and continue to handle poorly. Paper over the cracks all you want by pointing fingers and laying blame but it won't solve any issues between KP and the ECB. This is not the last time they come to blows, for sure.

  • John on October 8, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    I don't think that the ECB is trying to say that this was a conspiracy by the SA team but rather just poor conduct by some individual players, so I don't see how legal action is in order. Regardless, it seems rather stupid to bring it up. I think it unlikely that the ECB would bring it up at all if they didn't have some evidence but, if it is true and the ECB have issue with it, they should have brought it up with the SA board directly. I don't really see this as mitigation for KP's actions anyway and, if the ECB thought that KP doing his apology by YouTube instead of directly was not appropriate then surely this rates as no better. It's just dragging out a saga that's already dragged on too long. KP did what he did, it was stupid, he's apologised, let's move on.

  • Venkat on October 8, 2012, 1:21 GMT

    KP would have probably performed great in this World T20 tournament, it would have made the tournament more fun. I do not buy this rubbish about SA provoking being the cause for the fallout. . . the real cause is how ECB dealt with the situation, so it seems.

  • Ski on October 7, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    As an Englishman I think SA probably did provoke it but who could blame them They saw a weakness and exploited it, its just the mind games that all professional sportsmen use. I say well done SA, your tactics worked and in any case you were head and shoulders above Eng in the test series

  • Randolph on October 7, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    Theyve only got him in the team because without him they'll be whitewashed in the Ashes. Now that I am living here I can see how poor techniques here are.

  • David on October 7, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    @tinkertinker: I am one of those "hardcore" England fans and you're right, I don't buy it. Not one little piece of it. Sick of the whole sorry story now.

  • Richard on October 7, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Interesting silly face from KP, Pythonesque really.

  • No featured comments at the moment.