KP 'provoked' by South Africans
South Africa's players "provoked the situation" which led to Kevin Pietersen's exclusion from the England team, England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive David Collier said on Sunday.
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Pietersen was left out of the final Investec Test between the two nations in the summer and was then omitted from the ICC World Twenty20 squad following allegations that he sent messages to members of the South Africa team criticising then England captain Andrew Strauss during the second Test at Headingley.
The 32-year-old apologised for sending the messages earlier this week and signed a new central contract with the ECB after the two sides agreed "a process for his re-integration into the England team".
Collier says Pietersen was replying to Blackberry Messenger messages sent by the opposition which he felt were unnecessary.
"That's our understanding," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme. "I have not seen those messages and no one has kept those messages, that's why it takes some time.
"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 (South Africa) provoked the situation."
However, Collier believes Pietersen and the England team should have handled the situation better.
"There was definitely a policy that was happening but we shouldn't blame the South Africans, we should be above that," he continued.
"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."
Asked about the content of the messages, Collier added: "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.
"There would probably be mixed feelings (for South Africa). Certain feelings to say that maybe it worked, (there) might be other feelings that we actually might have disrupted a player and we would have been unhappy had it been one of ours."
Cricket South Africa described the messages as "banter" when the story first emerged in August and a representative of CSA today refuted Collier's new claims, saying: "That is rubbish. That is not the case at all. No one was trying to rile KP."
Collier says talks are ongoing between Pietersen and the England management and it will be up to team director Andy Flower to decide when he feels the batsman should return to the squad.
"When Andy Flower says to me 'I am ready to select this player' I would trust his judgment every single time. If the team director says he is ready, that is good enough for me.
"It takes two seconds to destroy a building and it takes a long time to build, 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 say what his concerns were."
There have been concerns that the Pietersen saga, coupled with an extremely busy schedule, could prompt Flower to leave his role, but Collier is hopeful the Zimbabwean will remain with England for years to come.
"We value Andy so highly that we will not allow that to happen," he added. "For any coach in the world of sport, the pressure is so high that there will be a time where says he needs a break and needs to finish.
"I hope that is a long time in the future. He is committed for a number of years."