The international career of Kevin Pietersen has been put in doubt after the England batsman refused to deny the reports that he had sent text messages to some of the South Africa team criticising his captain Andrew Strauss.
The England and Wales Cricket Board made the bold decision to drop Pietersen from the 13-man squad that will play in the third and final Test against South Africa at Lord's, calling into question his international future.
England must win the match to level the series and retain their status as the number one Test side in the world and it would have been much easier to wait until after the final game to make a decision on Pietersen.
The Surrey batsman produced a superb innings in the second Test but his behaviour both in and out of the dressing room has forced the ECB to make a decisive move.
A report in the Daily Mail revealed that Pietersen had sent messages to Dale Steyn and AB De Villiers during the second Test which were believed to be critical of Strauss.
The England board found out about the messages but were offered no help by the South Africa players and therefore decided to draw up a document asking Pietersen to admit that he had communicated with the opposition.
Pietersen refused to sign the document and instead made a video in which he outlined his desire to play all forms of cricket for England, while also declaring that money was not the main motivator for originally announcing his retirement from the shorter forms of the game.
"I want to commit to all forms of cricket for England because I love playing for England," said Pietersen. "I am absolutely not insisting on playing the whole of the IPL season. I am taking that back. I will come back and play the Tests against New Zealand. I have realised what's important to me. I've realised I can be happy. I can't wait to play in Straussy's 100th Test."
Clearly Pietersen did not expect to be left out of the squad, but it seems his actions have disrupted an England side which had beaten all comers over the past two years to confirm their place as the best Test side in the world.
One player to openly discuss the problem in the dressing room was England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson who used his column in the Daily Mail to outline the opinion on the matter.
"Frankly, as players we do not need this distraction," revealed Anderson. "The stand-off between Kevin and the ECB is not something we needed. To me it's all been going on too long. The players want this put to bed so we can concentrate on the game.
"No player is ever bigger than the team. To be as successful as we have been you need all 11 players pulling in the same direction."
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, was another to admit that the issues surrounding Pietersen had impacted the unity of the side.
"Over the last three years or so the key to our success has been a team purpose, a unity in the dressing room and strong leadership by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss," said Hugh Morris. "'We need that on Thursday and we feel at the moment we have some issues with Kevin that we've been unable to resolve."
Pietersen released a statement of his own as he assured cricket fans that this would not be the end of his international career.
"The fact is I love England and I love cricket. This episode has been demoralising for me and my family. However, none of this constitutes the end of my international career," said Pietersen.
England will hope to level the series against South Africa in the third Test without Pietersen as the dispute looks set to rumble on for some time.