Kevin Pietersen: Mistake to send texts to South Africa but it was just banter
Watch 'KP: Story of a Genius' On Demand from Thursday
Last Updated: 31/07/19 4:33pm
Kevin Pietersen admits it was a mistake to text South Africa players during the 2012 series in England but says it was simply banter with mates.
Speaking to Nasser Hussain in 'KP: Story of a Genius', a Sky Originals documentary, Pietersen says he's apologised to former captain Andrew Strauss for the infamous 'Textgate' saga of 2012 which hastened his final Test appearance, in 2014.
The five-part documentary - available in full on Sky On Demand from Thursday - charts how Pietersen, perhaps the most-talented batsman England has ever had, rose to stardom and became a hero of the 2005 Ashes and the player of the tournament in England's winning World T20 campaign.
The series, which includes interviews with Strauss and several of Pietersen's former team-mates, also follows his decline to England outcast - an international journey that ended after the debacle of the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash.
The turning point came in 2012 as South Africa sought to topple Strauss' England from top spot in the ICC Test rankings at a time when Pietersen felt undermined by a parody Twitter account called 'KP Genius'.
Asked why the account hurt him so much, Pietersen said: "Because players in the dressing room were associated with it. I was distraught. I just went completely insular. I went completely into my bubble - I was like, 'I'm gone'."
Pietersen went on to produce one of the greatest Test innings in the second Test at Headingley in August, striking 22 fours and one six in an imperious 149, but it was the texts he sent to South Africa players during the match that would take over the headlines.
Asked how he got into a position where he's texting the opposition during a Test, Pietersen replied: "Because they're my mates. Andrew Strauss had said to us - 'under no circumstances will you go and talk to these guys'. I'm going 'shut up you idiot'.
"When Morne Morkel runs in to bowl at me I'm going to try and whack him as far as I can whack him because he's a buddy of mine and that personal thing is, I don't want him at the end of the match to go 'KP, how are you going there buddy?' I want to know that I've absolutely belted him.
"But off the field I don't need anybody to tell me I can't speak to people. He [Strauss] was being a [insult] - he was."
But Strauss replied: "I think there is this impression there that I was always telling KP not to speak to the opposition; that's something that I don't think I'd ever do to KP. He did that whoever we played against; he always had his friends in the opposition.
"So those text messages - that hurt me - and certainly the stuff around how to get me out. I just don't see how you can do that, personally. I think that if you're playing for a team and potentially helping the opposition get one over one of your own players, no."
Fellow former England captain Michael Vaughan, who skippered Pietersen until retiring in 2008, felt Pietersen had crossed a line.
"I don't think he should have played for England again - and I said it at the time," Vaughan reflected. "If he was proven guilty to have sent the opposition those text messages, he shouldn't have played again."
Broadcaster Piers Morgan is resolute in his belief that Pietersen was wrongly made an example of.
"The big question in Textgate with Strauss is 'did Kevin Pietersen give the South Africans advice on how to get Strauss out?" he asked.
"I felt like Kevin was hung, drawn and quartered over a mythological allegation; yes, he might have been abusing Strauss to his mates in the other team - and that's unsavoury and unacceptable - but he wasn't giving tactical advice. And it was that which was used as the real stick to beat him with."
Pietersen was dropped for the final Test of the series at Lord's - a match England had to win to stop South Africa replacing them as the No 1 Test team in the world but failed to do so - and KP was successfully reintegrated back into the team after making a public apology to his team-mates, supporters and the ECB.
"I made a mistake," Pietersen said. "I made a mistake - I've talked about it. I said to Straussy that I am so sorry, so there's not much more I can do that I can do on the situation or on the topic."
Watch all five episodes of 'KP: Story of a Genius' ON DEMAND from Thursday or catch one episode per Test during this summer's Ashes series.
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