England's Pietersen dilemma October 15, 2012

Collier apologises over Pietersen remarks

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David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has apologised for suggesting that South African players "provoked" Kevin Pietersen into sending the messages that led to the player being dropped from the England team.

Pietersen was omitted from the England team for the third Test of the series between England and South Africa in August after it emerged he had sent messages containing inappropriate comments about the England captain, Andrew Strauss, to members of the South Africa touring party. Pietersen was subsequently omitted from England World T20 squad and their squad for the Test tour of India, though he is now undergoing a "rehabilitation" process that could see him return to the side shortly.

Just as it seemed the matter was close to resolution, however, Collier gave a live radio interview with the BBC on October 7 in which he claimed Pietersen had been reacting to messages from members of the South Africa team and that the episode may have been orchestrated to disrupt the England dressing room.

Asked about the context of the messages sent from Pietersen to members of the South Africa touring party, Collier replied: "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. 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."

The comments angered Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South Africa Cricketers' Association (SACA). The acting chief executive of the former, Jacques Faul, expressed his "disappointment", while SACA demanded an apology. While it is clear that the ECB and CSA do not agree on all the details of the episode, they have now released a joint statement making it clear that Collier has apologised for his comments and underlined the respect the ECB have for the "highest ethical standards of behaviour" observed by South Africa players:

"CSA and ECB have discussed the events which led to Kevin Pietersen's non-selection for the third test," the statement said.

"Cricket South Africa has made clear to ECB that the electronic messages were not part of any initiative or plan to undermine the England team or players. ECB has unreservedly accepted that assurance and wishes to reiterate that it has no issue at all with CSA - or the Proteas players - on this matter and appreciates that the South African and England players follow the highest ethical standards of behaviour.

"Although the two boards do not agree on the sequence of events regarding any responses to messages between Kevin Pietersen and certain Proteas players, CSA and SACA accept Mr Collier's apology based upon his earlier utterances that the team may have acted in a way which was underhand. Both CSA and ECB regard this matter as now closed and will not comment on the confidential information shared in discussion between the boards."

The episode is an embarrassment to the ECB and may well lead to questions about Collier's future. But, while Collier will forever be tainted by his involvement with the Stanford debacle, his record as CEO is, on the whole, good. The England team has climbed the rankings in all formats since he was appointed in 2004 and the ECB has gone from a position of poverty to boasting a surplus of more than £20m.

Furthermore, the ECB lead the way in the funding of women's and disability cricket, while huge sums - in excess of £30m a year - have been invested in grassroots cricket and the numbers of people playing the game has doubled. He was close to being appointed CEO of the ICC earlier this year, but missed out to former South Africa wicketkeeper Dave Richardson.

The issue will do little to improve relations between the ECB and Pietersen, though. While Collier has previously admitted that the ECB has never seen the messages, which were reported to be deleted some weeks ago, they have received a "binding assurance" from Pietersen that they were not derogatory of Strauss and did not contain tactical advice. It seems they also accepted, at the time, that they were sent in response to messages from South Africa players.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dirk_L on October 17, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    @Army-Jim: England never was #1 in all three formats at the same time (SA was, though very briefly) but still is the ODI #1.

  • Hammond on October 17, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    @Mervo- the ECB never recruited anyone. The Kolpak decision opened the door. But I don't expect anyone who wants to fly that "England are good because of South Africans" flag to actually even recognise the truth, let alone acknowledge the truth openly on a cricket forum.

  • ArmyJim on October 16, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    I think it's time the (gutter) press dropped this and we just get back on with the game. No matter what you think of KP, England have just had a very poor T20 WC series, we can never prove it would have been different with him playing. What we can say is that we have goner in a very short time from being number one in all formats, to (I believe) not number one in any format.

  • 2nd_Slip on October 16, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @Mervo and @ jr1972 ABSOLUTELY TRUE, YOU COULDNT HAVE SAID IT BETTER

  • csr11 on October 16, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    To my English friends, Keep flogging this dead horse please.. it is hilarious.. and definitely more entertaining than champions league..

  • disco_bob on October 16, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @Dirk_L, what I meant was the hypothetical situation where KP did not leave SA in the first place and simply fought his way into the side so by now he would be an established player surrounded by others of commensurate ability, because ostensibly that was his raison d'etre for jumping ship. Just seemed a little impatient. England only gave him the opportunity to express himself and not always with regards to cricket. There's no doubt that KP is a remarkable talent and in retrospect SA was the place to fully develop it. I cannot imagine anyone in England ever considering him English, as opposed to say Straussy, who does seem to have a fair dash of English pluck about him.

  • Dirk_L on October 16, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    @disco_bob: KP's absence may leave a yawning gap in the England team, but I don't see the corresponding gap in the SA team where he would slot into. In place of Amla? Kallis? De Villiers? Clearly not. Duminy? Objectively maybe, but there are obvious reasons why Duminy is now permanent. Rudolph? His place will have to be sacrificed to make room for a specialist wicketkeeper. No, KP is irrevocably English now. When he left SA, he was a mediocre bowling allrounder. England made him what he has turned into. Kevin the man may have a South African heart, but Kevin the cricketer is English.

  • Ronaldus on October 16, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    There is an old adage that says "the more skilful your sports administration the better your team's performance on the field". The recent decline in England's performance on the field in all forms of cricket tells me something about the competence of Collier and his colleagues in the boardroom. I agree a code of conduct for administrators suggested by some readers is worth considering.

  • ghost_of_len_hutton on October 16, 2012, 0:13 GMT

    A storm in a teacup, by gum. As no-one has access to the texts now, I respectfully suggest we all move on. There's literally nothing to see here anymore.

  • disco_bob on October 15, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    It is ironic that if KP was in the current SA squad they could well be in a position to dominate Test cricket as the number one team for a long time and he would have finally received the adulation that seems to be his motivating force. As it is now, with England he'll never be regarded as a truly great player, and he'll never be thought of as a true English player either, which is why it's Fredalo's heroics that are remembered in 2005 not Pietersen's Ashes winning Oval knock.

  • Dirk_L on October 17, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    @Army-Jim: England never was #1 in all three formats at the same time (SA was, though very briefly) but still is the ODI #1.

  • Hammond on October 17, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    @Mervo- the ECB never recruited anyone. The Kolpak decision opened the door. But I don't expect anyone who wants to fly that "England are good because of South Africans" flag to actually even recognise the truth, let alone acknowledge the truth openly on a cricket forum.

  • ArmyJim on October 16, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    I think it's time the (gutter) press dropped this and we just get back on with the game. No matter what you think of KP, England have just had a very poor T20 WC series, we can never prove it would have been different with him playing. What we can say is that we have goner in a very short time from being number one in all formats, to (I believe) not number one in any format.

  • 2nd_Slip on October 16, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @Mervo and @ jr1972 ABSOLUTELY TRUE, YOU COULDNT HAVE SAID IT BETTER

  • csr11 on October 16, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    To my English friends, Keep flogging this dead horse please.. it is hilarious.. and definitely more entertaining than champions league..

  • disco_bob on October 16, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @Dirk_L, what I meant was the hypothetical situation where KP did not leave SA in the first place and simply fought his way into the side so by now he would be an established player surrounded by others of commensurate ability, because ostensibly that was his raison d'etre for jumping ship. Just seemed a little impatient. England only gave him the opportunity to express himself and not always with regards to cricket. There's no doubt that KP is a remarkable talent and in retrospect SA was the place to fully develop it. I cannot imagine anyone in England ever considering him English, as opposed to say Straussy, who does seem to have a fair dash of English pluck about him.

  • Dirk_L on October 16, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    @disco_bob: KP's absence may leave a yawning gap in the England team, but I don't see the corresponding gap in the SA team where he would slot into. In place of Amla? Kallis? De Villiers? Clearly not. Duminy? Objectively maybe, but there are obvious reasons why Duminy is now permanent. Rudolph? His place will have to be sacrificed to make room for a specialist wicketkeeper. No, KP is irrevocably English now. When he left SA, he was a mediocre bowling allrounder. England made him what he has turned into. Kevin the man may have a South African heart, but Kevin the cricketer is English.

  • Ronaldus on October 16, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    There is an old adage that says "the more skilful your sports administration the better your team's performance on the field". The recent decline in England's performance on the field in all forms of cricket tells me something about the competence of Collier and his colleagues in the boardroom. I agree a code of conduct for administrators suggested by some readers is worth considering.

  • ghost_of_len_hutton on October 16, 2012, 0:13 GMT

    A storm in a teacup, by gum. As no-one has access to the texts now, I respectfully suggest we all move on. There's literally nothing to see here anymore.

  • disco_bob on October 15, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    It is ironic that if KP was in the current SA squad they could well be in a position to dominate Test cricket as the number one team for a long time and he would have finally received the adulation that seems to be his motivating force. As it is now, with England he'll never be regarded as a truly great player, and he'll never be thought of as a true English player either, which is why it's Fredalo's heroics that are remembered in 2005 not Pietersen's Ashes winning Oval knock.

  • Mervo on October 15, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    What nonsense. When you recruit players from other countries with split allegiances, you just have to expect this occasionally.

  • JG2704 on October 15, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @ muttydoc on (October 15 2012, 18:49 PM GMT) The texts he sent were supposed to be about Strauss . If that was what provoked him then why was he not saying stuff about Broad. By the way Broad was cleared by ESPN's investigation too on the Twitter account and regardless of any of our beliefs re Broad , one thing he did do which KP didn't was come forward straight away to answer queries with the ECB

  • JG2704 on October 15, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @ biggyd on (October 15 2012, 12:30 PM GMT) Yeah that wouldn't surprise me at all.

  • JG2704 on October 15, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    @Dan Botten on (October 15 2012, 10:49 AM GMT) Obviously whoever KP sent the texts to or a friend/associate of who KP sent the texts to / Kirstenfan on (October 15 2012, 11:52 AM GMT) I'm not sure how much of a bad position - whoever KP texted to - was put in , unless someone else got wind of it and put the recipient(s) in a bad position? Whatever , it's a daft position to put yourself in by aiming any sort of cricket based rant in the direction of players who you are playing against. I'm with you on the openness front Please publish this time , nothing untrue or of offence

  • on October 15, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    kp is a good player ... and i want him in south african team

  • Greatest_Game on October 15, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    @ pb10677 on (October 15 2012, 10:34 AM GMT), commented that "...players get sanctioned/fined by the ICC for making remarks like that. But nothing happens to administrators." The players are inevitably sanctioned under two specific articles of the Laws of Cricket: for any action or behavior that is "Against The Spirit of the Game," (Preamble to the Laws, no.4, DISRESPECT) or for any action or behavior that "Brings the Game into Disrepute" (Law 42, no.18, CONDUCT.) Collier's accusations, were he a player, would under normal circumstances be sanctioned as DISRESPECTFUL CONDUCT, but the administrators are held to no code of conduct, and there is no mechanism for their sanction.

  • muttydoc on October 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    If anything provoked KP, it is obviously the parody twitter account maintained by Broad's best friend. ECB accepted Broad's word for it but KP had to apologise several times for his obvious stupid mistake.

  • vittiv on October 15, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    @wibblewibble Wow.. Quite an imagination I would say

  • djdrastic on October 15, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    hahahaha , I am still laughing at this farce.Keep beating that old dead horse Mr Collier.

  • JG2704 on October 15, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    No poster knows what KP said in those texts so no one can really judge ECB on how harshly he's been treated - well they can but it is surely pure pro/anti KP bias without this knowledge.I will say ECB members seem to be making a right pigs ear of things now. Listen , by the reaction by KP in the immediate aftermath I'd say that he said some bad stuff.If not then why did he not come forward at the time or protest his innocence since?Why can't ECB just say something like "After a tough last few months we have come to an understanding with KP that things were said in the heat of the moment for which KP has apologised and we and the team are happy that both England and KP can move forward".KP has issued a public apology and while it would be interesting to find out the content of the texts , it's not essential. What gets me is now we have one guy saying there was nothing derogatory in the texts and the other intimating that there was but was not KP's fault leaving more chaos/questions

  • wibblewibble on October 15, 2012, 13:35 GMT

    @fr0nt-foot_lunge

    We could have been smashed by them in the tests instead of losing the first (admittedly badly), unlucky to miss a win in one due to weather and lost a third (imo) because weather took so much time from the game that we had to go too fast to get the (gettable) target.

    We could have been smashed in the T20 and ODI, but drew them 2-2 and 1-1.

    It didn't go how we wanted, but that was largely due to KP being daft as a brush with the media, then with his advisors. ECB did very little wrong in KP saga.

  • LordKratos on October 15, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    I like the cricket better iL leave the politics to the politicians

  • on October 15, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    Why cricket becomes WWF wrestling ok if this becomes so leave it where goes after some time again people thinking its getalemen game...its no more..allow everything to get proper enjoyment

  • PhaniBhaskar24 on October 15, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    KP is made scapegoat for all these issues. I have only two questions 1) who has started texting first, Kp or SA's 2) Who leaked the messages?

  • Front-Foot_lunge on October 15, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Another backward step from the ECB after a summer of backward steps. Losing No1 status, Peitersen saga, indifferent ODI's, miserable T20 WC. I fail to see how we could be more humiliated by South Africa if we tried.

  • jmcilhinney on October 15, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    @billycraven on (October 15 2012, 10:39 AM GMT), the whole thing should have been ignored a long time ago. Personally, I don't think that the truth of what happened really matters all that much at this stage. What matters more is that everyone accept that various people did things that they shouldn't and everyone should try not to do things like that in the future. As far as SA players being implicated and our not knowing whether they were involved or not doesn't really matter to me. I watch them for their cricketing prowess and that's it. I think we care way too much about sportsmen as people. They are people just like everyone else and to expect them to be better is silly. As long as they are generally respectable then I don't care about what they do or don't do away from the cricket field.

  • Yolk_Eater on October 15, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    I have never understood this "apologizing" thing that always goes on after making some stupid statement. Do they even know the meaning of apologizing. This is nothing but diplomatic banter and honestly I am sick of it

  • Kirstenfan on October 15, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    @Dan Botten - exactly the right question, and I am surprised that this hasn't been raised before. I have heard mention that KP sent messages to AB and to Dale Steyn, but they must then have made those known to the world. I am sure that AB and Dale would not have intended for KP to send them the info he did, and then were placed in a very difficult position between their friendship with KP and the content of the messages. Why can't there be some openness and honesty about that?

  • bumsonseats on October 15, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    billycraven what is there to close its not a hanging matter. the saffers did use it to their advantae. it was not in englands advantage to be brought out beore a test match, so who do you think was

  • on October 15, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Simple question. Who leaked the texts?

  • PACERONE on October 15, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Players cannot even tell the truth in an interview.If they do it is considered bringing the game into disrepute and get fined. The officials have done more to harm the game than the players.

  • billycraven on October 15, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    "Although the two boards do not agree on the sequence of events...... regard this matter as now closed " How can it be closed if the truth has not been established, a man was limited in his capacity to earn a living, others were implicated, and now we just ignore it. So typical cricket just hope things go away, after all WHY SHOULD THE FANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW THE TRUTH. Either the ECB have egg on their face and just don't have the balls to admit it, or the truth would be to damaging for cricket to become public. COME CLEAN CRICKET or our beloved game could go the way of other sports, where we do not know what to believe any more.

  • Hammond on October 15, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    Yep, hush it up, regardless of the fact that the whole furore (remembering that the text messages were reported by the South African team) scuppered the last test for England.

  • Selassie-I on October 15, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Well, it really wasn't the most clever of things to say was it David? Let's not try to blame our problems on the Saffers ay?

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  • Selassie-I on October 15, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Well, it really wasn't the most clever of things to say was it David? Let's not try to blame our problems on the Saffers ay?

  • Hammond on October 15, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    Yep, hush it up, regardless of the fact that the whole furore (remembering that the text messages were reported by the South African team) scuppered the last test for England.

  • billycraven on October 15, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    "Although the two boards do not agree on the sequence of events...... regard this matter as now closed " How can it be closed if the truth has not been established, a man was limited in his capacity to earn a living, others were implicated, and now we just ignore it. So typical cricket just hope things go away, after all WHY SHOULD THE FANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW THE TRUTH. Either the ECB have egg on their face and just don't have the balls to admit it, or the truth would be to damaging for cricket to become public. COME CLEAN CRICKET or our beloved game could go the way of other sports, where we do not know what to believe any more.

  • PACERONE on October 15, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Players cannot even tell the truth in an interview.If they do it is considered bringing the game into disrepute and get fined. The officials have done more to harm the game than the players.

  • on October 15, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Simple question. Who leaked the texts?

  • bumsonseats on October 15, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    billycraven what is there to close its not a hanging matter. the saffers did use it to their advantae. it was not in englands advantage to be brought out beore a test match, so who do you think was

  • Kirstenfan on October 15, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    @Dan Botten - exactly the right question, and I am surprised that this hasn't been raised before. I have heard mention that KP sent messages to AB and to Dale Steyn, but they must then have made those known to the world. I am sure that AB and Dale would not have intended for KP to send them the info he did, and then were placed in a very difficult position between their friendship with KP and the content of the messages. Why can't there be some openness and honesty about that?

  • Yolk_Eater on October 15, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    I have never understood this "apologizing" thing that always goes on after making some stupid statement. Do they even know the meaning of apologizing. This is nothing but diplomatic banter and honestly I am sick of it

  • jmcilhinney on October 15, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    @billycraven on (October 15 2012, 10:39 AM GMT), the whole thing should have been ignored a long time ago. Personally, I don't think that the truth of what happened really matters all that much at this stage. What matters more is that everyone accept that various people did things that they shouldn't and everyone should try not to do things like that in the future. As far as SA players being implicated and our not knowing whether they were involved or not doesn't really matter to me. I watch them for their cricketing prowess and that's it. I think we care way too much about sportsmen as people. They are people just like everyone else and to expect them to be better is silly. As long as they are generally respectable then I don't care about what they do or don't do away from the cricket field.

  • Front-Foot_lunge on October 15, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Another backward step from the ECB after a summer of backward steps. Losing No1 status, Peitersen saga, indifferent ODI's, miserable T20 WC. I fail to see how we could be more humiliated by South Africa if we tried.