LONDON: Kevin Pietersen has been dropped from England's squad for the third Test against South Africa after the controversial batsman was caught up in a text message row.
England's selectors made their decision to axe Pietersen following reports he sent text messages to several South Africa players during the second Test at Headingley that were believed to contain derogatory comments about English captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.
Jonny Bairstow has been selected in place of Pietersen, whose involvement in the final Test at Lord's, which England must win to draw the series and retain their place on top of the world rankings, had been in doubt throughout a dramatic week.
South Africa-born Pietersen suggested after the second Test that he might walk away from the sport at the end of the current series because he had grown disillusioned with what he perceived as problems in the England squad.
But on Saturday night he appeared to have a change of heart when he posted a video on YouTube in which he agreed to make himself available again for his adopted country in all formats after recently opting out of one-day action.
That wasn't enough to convince the selectors though, who remained furious about the texting controversy, and Pietersen's international career now looks in tatters.
Hugh Morris, the Managing Director of England Cricket, said: “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 (Sunday) 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.”
England's selectors delayed naming their 13-man squad by an extra five hours on Sunday to allow Pietersen extra time to publicly declare he did not send critical texts to the South African team.
But it seems he refused to bow to the request and that has cost the 32-year-old his place despite his dashing century in the second Test.
Pietersen has proved a divisive presence in the England dressing room this year following his much-debated decision to quit limited overs cricket and team-mate Jimmy Anderson used his newspaper column on Sunday to suggest the controversy had played a key role in the team's poor performances against South Africa.
Geoff Miller, a member of the England selection panel, underlined that feeling when he said: “We need a squad fully focussed on this Test match to be able to play the sort of cricket we know is necessary if we are to win this week and level the series.
“The second Test was a marked improvement on our performance at the start of the series but we are aware we will need to play some very good cricket this week if we are to level this series.”
England squad for third Test at Lords:
Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Steven Finn, Graham Onions, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, James Taylor, Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)