England cricket captain Andrew Strauss backs the decision to remove Kevin Pietersen from the squad, adding that the batsman must address “underlying issues” before he returns to the side.
Pietersen was dropped from the team for the third test against South Africa in the wake of a text scandal and has since admitted sending “provocative” text messages to members of the opposition during the Headingley test.
This followed a press conference in which he revealed dissatisfaction with his international career and claimed that he may quit playing test cricket for England.
He was warned that he could save his international career by publicly apologising to his England team-mates following the texting controversy that cost him his place in the third test against South Africa.
While South Africa-born Pietersen has now apologised, Strauss said he feels “let down”.
He said he believed “underlying issues on trust and respect” must be addressed if he is to return to the side.
Strauss’s 100th test for England at Lord’s threatens to be overshadowed by the controversial absence of a batsman who scored 149 in the drawn second test at Leeds.
South Africa have outplayed England in the first two matches of the series and have a 1-0 advantage heading to Lord’s.
Strauss hoped the situation the hosts’ find themselves in could work in their favour.
“Adversity can bring you slightly closer together. We have seen that before with us on a number of occasions. That is going to be the test of us this week,” he said.
“I have got every confidence that we can win this test. This is a great opportunity for us to show some strength and resolve and come through.”
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith said he was perplexed about the focus on the row.
“I find it quite amazing that it’s still going on and that it has reached this point,” Smith told reporters.
“In our dressing room it’s something that’s hardly been discussed except the amount of time and coverage that it’s getting.
“But obviously Kevin feels that he’s done something wrong and he has apologised for that.”
England, who trail 1-0 in the three-match series, must win to retain their status as the world’s number one-ranked team.
If South Africa avoids defeat, it would not only take them to the summit of the rankings but it would also end England’s impressive streak of seven straight test series wins at home and extend South Africa’s six-year unbeaten run in away test series.
South Africa, who won the first test at The Oval by an innings and 12 runs, are expected to name an unchanged team for the third consecutive match.
England are likely to make two changes with Jonny Bairstow playing instead of Pietersen and off-spinner Graeme Swann be recalled at the expense of either Steven Finn or Tim Bresnan.