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SA players provoked Pietersen: Collier

London, Oct 7, 2012, AFP: 22:09 IST
South Africa have been accused of provoking the text message scandal that led to England batsman Kevin Pietersen being sent into international exile.

Pietersen was dropped for the final Test between England and South Africa earlier this year following allegations that he sent texts to South Africans players that contained criticism of then England captain Andrew Strauss during the second Test at Headingley.

The 32-year-old South Africa-born star was also axed for the one-day series against the Proteas and the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka. But Pietersen apologised for sending the messages earlier last week and signed a new central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after the two sides agreed “a process for his re-integration into the England team”.

And now ECB chief executive David Collier has claimed Pietersen was only replying to Blackberry Messenger messages sent by the opposition which he felt were unnecessary.
“That’s our understanding,” Collier told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday. “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.”

While Collier is keen to remove some of the blame for the situation from Pietersen’s shoulders, he believes the Surrey player 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 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.”

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