Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - Page 18 News List

South Africa manager says texts were just ‘banter’

AFP, LONDON

South Africa team manager Mohammed Moosajee has said Kevin Pietersen’s controversial texts to members of the Proteas squad were just “banter” after claims he criticized England captain Andrew Struass and Andy Flower.

Pietersen was dropped from the England team for the crucial final Test which starts at Lord’s tomorrow after he refused to reveal the contents of the texts, which were sent during the drawn second Test at Headingley earlier this month.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had told Pietersen his selection depended on him confirming publicly that no derogatory texts had been sent to the opposition, or if they had been sent then he had to publicly apologize for them.

When South Africa-born Pietersen refused to respond to the ECB’s request, he was axed and the 32-year-old’s international career is now in tatters.

However, Moosajee played down the content of the texts and said the messages contained nothing more than “banter.”

He also refuted suggestions that Dale Steyn and A.B. de Villiers were the two South Africans Pietersen had texted.

“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 on Monday.

“We stand by the same stance we have taken since we heard the news about these allegations. Yes, text messages were sent, but like we said before, it was banter among teammates, which is perfectly acceptable,” he said. “The ECB has not made a formal approach to myself or any member of the team to see the text messages, as currently reported in the media.”

“Allegations that Dale Steyn and A.B. de Villiers were the recipients of the texts are unfounded. Until such time that the allegations are met with the correct facts and evidence, we shall not comment,” Moosajee added.

“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,” he said.

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