Kevin Pietersen: ‘Textgate’ a mistake, but just banter
Kevin Pietersen never played for England after the 2013-14 Ashes. © Getty

Former England captan Kevin Pietersen has described the text message he sent to members of the touring South African cricket team during a Test series seven years ago as a mistake, but defended his move as being part of general banter between friends.

The incident now known widely as ‘Textgate‘ resulted, ultimately, in Pietersen being dropped by England in 2014 after the Ashes rout in Australia.

In a five-part documentary titled ‘KP: Story of a Genius‘, Pietersen told Nasser Hussain that in hindsight he should not have sent text messages to South African cricketers and that he apologised to former England captain Andrew Strauss.

During the 2012 home series against South Africa, Strauss had informed England’s cricketers to not speak to their opponents. Pietersen, born in Pietermaritzburg and having shifted to England in 2000, found the notion ludicrous and continued to communicate with members of the South African squad.

When Strauss found out, relations between him and Pietersen – and subsequently some of his team-mates – took a turn for the worse, and ‘Textgate’ hastened the maverick batsman’s exit from the England team.

In the documentary, Pietersen said: “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.”

kevin pietersen text messages
Pietersen was dropped for sending texts about Strauss to members of the South African team. © Getty

Strauss’ reply to Pietersen’s statement was that he was hurt by his team-mate’s comments.

“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,” said Strauss. “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.”

Also in the documentary, Michael Vaughan said that Pietersen had crossed a line.

“I don’t think he should have played for England again – and I said it at the time,” he said. “If he was proven guilty to have sent the opposition those text messages, he shouldn’t have played again.”

Pietersen, 39, is England’s fifth-most successful Test batsman with 8181 runs at 47.28, with 23 centuries. Only Alastair Cook, with 33, has scored more hundreds for England in Tests.