SAfrica manager says Pietersen texts were 'banter'

South Africa team manager Mohammed Moosajee has denied that Kevin Pietersen sent derogatory text messages about members of the England team to South Africa players.

The batsman was dropped from England's squad to face South Africa in a must-win Test match at Lord's beginning Thursday amid allegations that he sent texts criticising his England teammates to some of the tourists.

"There has been untruthful allegations in the media implicating members of our squad in the current issue between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB," Moosajee said yesterday. "Yes, text messages were sent but like we said before it was banter among teammates, which is perfectly acceptable.

"Allegations that Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were the recipients of the texts are unfounded."

Pietersen scored 149 runs in the drawn second Test against South Africa at Headingley earlier this month, but misses out after failing to confirm or deny that the text messages existed.

Moosajee said reports that the England and Wales Cricket Board had made a formal approach to see the texts are untrue, adding that any dispute between Pietersen and the ECB had started before South Africa's arrival in the country.

"The internal issue between Kevin Pietersen and the English cricket board has been publicized for weeks, even before we arrived in the UK, and we don't want to get ourselves involved in an issue that has nothing to do with us," Moosajee said.

South Africa lead 1-0 heading into the Lord's match and will become the top-ranked team in the world by winning the three-Test series. Coach Gary Kirsten said that prospect will spur his team on to play well.

"Some people say we are not sure about the rankings, does it hold any water? But deep down every team aspires to it. They like to know they are number one in those rankings," Kirsten said. "We certainly take it with importance."

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