David Collier's Kevin Pietersen claims 'absolute rubbish,' says Proteas chief

 

South Africa's cricket authorities have reacted furiously to suggestions by David Collier, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, that the text-message exchange which led to Kevin Pietersen being dropped was begun by their players as a deliberate attempt to provoke the England batsman.

Pietersen's "process of reintegration" back into the England set up has begun but the fall-out from the protracted affair shows no signs of burning out. The ECB may now need to initiate a process of bridge building as Collier's opposite number at Cricket South Africa described his version of events as "absolute rubbish." A CSA statement released in response to what Collier said on Sunday opened by "dismissing with contempt allegations by the ECB."

The messages have not been seen by anyone at the ECB but Collier said on Sunday that Pietersen had been responding to texts sent by South African players. He said: "That's our understanding. It is a very thin line between fair and unfair. I certainly think [South Africa] provoked the situation. I think there was a tactic which was used."

Jacques Faul, CSA's acting chief executive, spoke to Collier about his claims yesterday morning. After their conversation Faul released a statement addressing Collier's assertion that the exchange was instigated by South Africa's players.

"This is absolute rubbish," said Faul. "What is particularly disappointing is that I had a face-to-face meeting with Mr Collier when I was in London for the Lord's Test match. He did not raise this allegation with me then and I would have thought as a matter of courtesy and decency he would have spoken to me about it before going public in the media.

"It is not the way the CSA goes about its business and it is not the way the ECB have done business with us in the past either. It is very disappointing because in the past our relationships with the ECB have always been cordial and constructive. This is an internal ECB matter in which we do not wish to be in."

Pietersen has himself accepted that the messages – since deleted – he sent were "provocative." He was dropped by England for the final Test against South Africa last summer after reports he had sent derogatory texts about Andrew Strauss. Pietersen has assured the ECB they were neither derogatory nor revealing of any team practices. His explanation – termed a "binding assurance" – was accepted as part of the peace deal struck in Sri Lanka last week. Pietersen apologised for "the situation that has arisen over the last couple of months."

The batsman, having agreed a new central contract, is undergoing his reintegration overseen by the England coach, Andy Flower, with the possibility of a return to the England squad as early as the tour to India, which begins at the end of this month.

Faul, who replaced Gerald Majola, suspended over financial irregularities in March, later added to his statement, suggesting the matter need not affect long-term relations with the ECB. "World cricket is a small place so we all have to get on and work with each other so I am sure we will work it out. We have left the door open for further discussions."

Pietersen is scheduled to play for Delhi Daredevils in their opening Champions League T20 game in South Africa on Saturday. The tournament runs to 28 October – Pietersen is not expected to feature should Delhi reach the knockout stages, instead taking part in England's training camp in Dubai, which begins on 25 October. In between Delhi's games he will spend time back in Britain meeting other England players as part of his reintegration.

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