Pietersen 'biggest loser' says Vaughan, as Piers Morgan rants
Batsman 'must apologise' to England by the weekend to save international career
THE ROW over Kevin Pietersen's exclusion from the England cricket team shows no sign of abating and now threatens to completely overshadow the showdown with South Africa at Lord's this week, which is also England captain Andrew Strauss's 100th Test.
Pietersen has been dropped for the match, which will decide who is the top ranked Test team in the world, after claims he sent text messages to South African players that were derogatory to Strauss and other figures in the England camp. He was asked to provide assurances that he had not sent the texts, and when he failed to do so he was exiled.
Now observers say that the only way Pietersen can regain the trust of his former team mates is by issuing a public apology. But one former England captain is sceptical about his chances of restarting his England career.
Michael Vaughan, who was skipper when Pietersen burst into the side in 2005, told the BBC there was "no way" he could have played in the upcoming Test. "If it's true that he sent those texts, it will take a long time for him to be allowed back," Vaughan added.
"It's been a mad, but also a very sad week for the England cricket team. There are no real winners, but one very big loser and that's Kevin Pietersen."
The Daily Mail claims that unless Pietersen acts by the weekend his career will be over. "England name their 15-man squad on Saturday for next month's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, where they will be defending their trophy. If Pietersen apologises before then, he could be named in the party."
The irony is that Pietersen retired from one-day cricket earlier in the season and was not expected to feature in the Twenty20 squad. He only made himself available for the campaign at the weekend, after the texting row had erupted.
To make matters even more complicated, Pietersen's friend Piers Morgan, appeared on Radio 5 Live on Monday night to lambast the ECB for dropping the player. He also revealed that a joke Twitter account mocking Pietersen had been set up by someone who, the chatshow host claimed, was friends with members of the England team.
A member of the public, Richard Bailey, later came forward to admit that he had set up the account. He also apologised for any embarrassment he had caused.
Amid all the name-calling it is hard not to feel for Strauss ahead of arguably England's most important Test match since the 2009.
"That Strauss is holding up as well as he is through all this is a tribute to his mental strength," writes Mike Selvey in The Guardian. "Being captain while the Pietersen saga has been playing out, however, must have been mentally draining even to one so resilient."
It will, he notes, be a relief to all the England players once the cricket starts on Thursday.