REUTERS - Kevin Pietersen’s removal from the England cricket team over inappropriate text messages was a tragedy for both player and country, according to Australian spin great Shane Warne.
With Pietersen dropped for the third test, South Africa defeated England at Lord’s on Monday to replace the home side at the top of the world test rankings.
“Kevin will be one of the first people to admit that he’s acted in a way that’s been a bit silly and stupid,” Warne told Australian media on Tuesday, jumping to his friend’s defence.
“I’m sure he’d like to take back a few of his actions. There’s a bit too much ego at the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board). There’s no give or take or compromise.
“Both sides are at fault - the bottom line is Kevin Pietersen is not playing international cricket, which is a tragedy.”
The flamboyant batsman’s international career is in the balance after he sent texts criticising his England team mates and staff to South African players.
Pietersen apologised last week but his woes continued when he was jeered after being bowled for a first-ball duck playing for county side Surrey at the weekend.
But Warne insisted the South African-born Pietersen was a special player and both sides needed to reach a compromise.
“He has to commit to the team first and you have to also understand that some people need different things,” said Warne, who fought some epic Ashes battles against Pietersen.
“The (English) cricket team, I think they’ve let Kevin Pietersen down - it shouldn’t have gotten to this stage.
“If he doesn’t sign his England contract, if he doesn’t play for England again, I just think that’s a tragedy,” Warne added.
“To me, the leadership of England, whether it be the selectors, ECB, coaching, captain - they have to put their hands up and say we haven’t handled this as best we can.
“Kevin Pietersen has to put his hand up and say I’ve conducted myself in a pretty ordinary fashion too.”
In typically forthright fashion, Warne, who had his share of scrapes with authority, called for Pietersen and England captain Andrew Strauss to sort out their differences, quickly.
“Strauss and Pietersen could have gone down the pub and had a beer,” Warne added. “If they’d punched the absolute whatever out of each other to sort it out, so be it.
“If you have to punch each other up around the corner, then do it - get it out of your system. Then come back, put your arm around each other and walk out to play together.”
Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo; Editing by John O'Brien