Rarely has all the talk in the build-up to a Test been dominated by a man who will not be playing in the match.
Yet England's dramatic decision to drop Kevin Pietersen from the third Test at Lord's starting Thursday, allegedly over text messages he sent to South African players during the drawn second Test at Headingley, has inevitably put the focus on their absent star batsman.
In yet another twist to the story, the South Africa-born batsman apologised on Wednesday for sending "provocative" text messages to South African players but team officials said it was too soon to say if he would be recalled to the side.
Last weekend, Pietersen was dramatically dropped from the squad for this week's third and final Test at Lord's, despite scoring a superb 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley.
Despite that innings, Pietersen was axed for failing to reveal the contents of those text messages, some of which were said to contain criticisms of England captain Andrew Strauss.
South Africa-born Pietersen, in an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement, admitted: "I did send what you might call provocative texts to my close friends in the South Africa team. The texts were meant as banter between close friends. I need to rein myself in sometimes. I apologise to Straussy and the team for the inappropriate remarks at the press conference and for the texts."
"I truly didn't mean to cause upset or tension particularly with important games at stake." England managing director Hugh Morris said: "We are in receipt of Kevin's apology but further discussions need to take place to establish whether it is possible to regain the trust and mutual respect required to ensure all parties are able to focus on playing cricket and to maintain the unity of purpose that has served us so well in recent years.
"Critically, those discussions should take place behind closed doors, rather than in the media spotlight. A successful conclusion to this process is in everyone's best interests and is required for Kevin Pietersen's potential selection in all forms of the game to be considered."
Morris added they were now focusing on the match and would not make any further comment "until such time as is appropriate".