Kevin Pietersen has been axed from England’s squad for the third Test match at Lord’s which begins on Thursday, with Jonny Bairstow recalled.
Speculation had been rife in recent days as to whether Pietersen would be included following his petulant press conference after the Headingley Test match. Added to this was the subsequent news of dressing room disharmony and the alleged sending of derogatory text messages about England team-mates to South African players.
However, he released an extraordinary video on YouTube yesterday evening in which he appeared to offer an apology and an olive branch to the England selectors. This led to the news that the announcement of the squad for the third Test had been put back from 0930 to 1430 – an indication that the selectors had originally left him out of the squad when they met earlier in the day but had been forced to rethink their decision following his YouTube interview.
Managing Director of England cricket, Hugh Morris, outlined the reasoning behind the postponement of the squad announcement and their eventual decision, saying, “During the past week we have held several discussions with Kevin Pietersen and his advisors. Following a constructive meeting it was agreed that a number of actions needed to be completed to re-engage Kevin within the England dressing room.
"A fundamental item was to confirm publicly that no derogatory texts had been sent by Kevin to the South African team. This has not been forthcoming despite clear timelines being set to allow the selectors to pick the squad for the third Test match. We provided an additional six hours this morning to provide every opportunity for agreement to be reached but regrettably this has not been possible.
“The success of the England team has been built on a unity of purpose and trust. Whilst we have made every attempt to find a solution to enable Kevin to be selected we have sadly had to conclude that, in the best interest of the team, he will miss the Lord’s Test.”
Pietersen has been replaced in the squad by Jonny Bairstow, who last played against the West Indies earlier in the summer, but who has since scored a century for the England Lions against Australia A. It is far from certain that he will make the starting eleven, however, as England may wish to alter the balance of their side and bring in five bowlers in what is a Test match that they must win if they are to retain their number one ranking.
That they will now go into that must-win game without their best batsman only makes their job that much more difficult.
England Test squad: Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Matt Prior (wicket-keeper), Graeme Swann, James Taylor, Jonathan Trott.
© Cricket World 2012
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