Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.
Kevin Pietersen faces some tough questions from the England management after he announced via Twitter that he had been dropped from England's squad for the Twenty20 and one-day internationals against Pakistan. He hit out at the decision on the social-networking site before adding he had signed with Surrey.
"Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too. Its a f**k up!!," Pietersen posted on his account kevinpp24, before deleting it minutes later, but not before it had been picked up by several users and circulated around the internet.
"I'll talk to KP," Geoff Miller, the national selector said. "Whether there is an apology or not, I'm sure [England coach] Andy Flower will have a word with him.
"I don't like that kind of language - and I don't use that language at all. I don't follow Twitter and I'm not a great believer in that kind of thing. I don't think it is necessary. What I do is select sides with my co-selectors that we think is right for England. My priority is the England side, and it is not about individuals. We make our decisions honourably and loyally for the England cause and we'll continue to do so."
In a post that was truncated due to Twitter's 140-character limit, Pietersen also added "Surrey have signed me for l ... [blank]." When contacted by Cricinfo, Surrey's chairman Paul Sheldon reacted with surprise, but added that he could offer no comment until after 5.15pm, which is the time that England's squad was due to be officially announced.
Sure enough, at the appointed hour, it was duly confirmed that Pietersen would be making his Surrey debut in Wednesday's CB40 match against Worcestershire at The Oval. "We are very pleased to be in a position to have agreed to the ECB's request to assist Kevin's return to form," said Sheldon in a press release.
Pietersen has struggled for form since returning from the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in May where he helped England to the title, and has managed just one half-century all summer, a scratchy 80 in the second Test against Pakistan at Edgbaston.
The magnitude of the decision, and the apparent negotiations with Surrey, also explain the reasons behind the delay in the timing of England's announcement, which was originally scheduled for 12pm, then pushed back to 2pm, and then finally set for the current time of 5.15pm.
Pietersen is the second high-profile cricketer to pre-empt a squad announcement by announcing his omission via Twitter, after Australia's opener Phil Hughes jumped the gun ahead of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston last summer.
He is not the first English player, however, to get himself into trouble via the medium. Earlier this season, the former England Under-19 captain Azeem Rafiq received a one-month suspension after reacting to being dropped from the squad with a foul-mouthed outburst at his coach, John Abraham, while Tim Bresnan also got into trouble for reacting angrily to a fan who questioned his weight.
This latest embarrassment has inevitably lead to speculation that the ECB will impose a ban on the use of Twitter by its centrally-contracted players. "It sounds like it might have been an accident, but not something you'd want to see and perhaps should be banned," Miller added. "It is something I could do without. I'm not for it, I must admit. But if it is an error then I want to know why that error has taken place."
However, according to Louis Halpern, an online reputation expert, the board would be advised to look before it leaps to a reaction.
"The ECB should be careful not to be too hasty in disciplining or banning its players from Twitter," Halpern told Cricinfo. "Although a ban would prevent leaking sensitive information and reduce the risk to its reputation from ill-considered player tweets, it could risk alienating an already distanced fan base.
"Particularly in the case of cricket, where international games are no longer covered by terrestrial television, fans have never been more far removed from their heroes. Social media platforms such as Twitter can be a perfect tonic to those disenfranchised, non-Sky subscribers, giving the ECB and individual players a great opportunity to tap into and communicate directly with their most loyal fan bases."
The board also squashed any speculation that Pietersen might play for Bangalore Royal Challengers in the Champions League to be held in South Africa from September 10. An ECB spokesman confirmed to Cricinfo that Pietersen would not be available to play in the Champions League, given that the dates of the competition clash with the final rounds of the County Championship, during which time he will playing for Surrey. It doesn't come as a surprise considering that the main reason for his axing was to enable him get some first-class practice ahead of the Ashes. Pietersen last played a non-England first-class game in May 2008.