London - Kevin Pietersen apologised on Wednesday for sending "provocative" text messages to South African players but team officials said it was too soon to say if he had a future as an England player.
Last weekend, star batsman 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.
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 SA 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".
Strauss, for whom the match at Lord's, his Middlesex home ground, will be his 100th Test and 50th as captain, said the selectors had made a "brave and correct decision" to omit Pietersen.
But he added it was impossible to say whether the 32-year-old Pietersen would play for England again.
"Who knows what's going to happen in the future? It's a bit of a process that we all have to go through," Strauss said.
"I'm not willing to state one way or another whether it's going to be possible or impossible on that matter."
England go into the game starting Thursday 1-0 down in the three-match series and need to win if they are to prevent South Africa replacing them as the world's number one Test side.
Tensions between Pietersen, whose 21 Tests hundreds leave him one shy of England's all-time record, and the ECB have been escalating for months.
The former England captain retired from limited overs internationals after officials refused his wish to opt out of 50-over matches while still playing Twenty20s.
Then came an extraordinary press conference after he was named man-of-the-match at Headingley, where Pietersen speculated the match at Lord's might be his "last Test".
And last week, on the eve of the squad announcement for Lord's, he took to YouTube to insist he was now available to play for England in all formats.
While his apology came too late for him to be selected for the third Test, it may help him be included in England's squad for the World Twenty20, due to be announced Saturday.
Pietersen was England's man of the tournament when they became World Twenty20 champions in the Caribbean two years ago -- the first time they had won an International Cricket Council tournament.
Pietersen averages nearly 50 in Tests and is a world-class player.
By contrast Jonathan Bairstow, the man who will replace him at Lord's, was dropped after playing his first three Tests against the West Indies earlier this season and has an average of under 13.
Kevin Pietersen's international career statistics:
Tests - 88
Innings - 151
Runs - 7 076
Highest score - 227
Average - 49.48
Strike-rate - 63.26
100s - 21
50s - 27
One-day internationals - 127
Innings - 116
Runs - 4 184
Highest score - 130
Average - 41.84
Strike-rate - 86.76
100s - 9
50s - 23
Twenty20 internationals - 36
Innings - 36
Runs - 1 176
Highest score - 79
Average - 37.93
Strike-rate - 141.51
100s - 0
50s - 7
Summary of Kevin Pietersen's career:
Born: June 27, 1980
Birthplace: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
1997/98: Makes first-class debut for Natal as an all-rounder.
2001: Joins Nottinghamshire with a view to qualifying as an England player, having become frustrated with the quota selection system in South Africa.
2003: Averages more than 50 for the third season running but becomes disenchanted with his county employers and threatens to sue for unfair dismissal, even though relegated Nottinghamshire insist he has not been sacked.
2005: Joins the England squad for the one-day series against his native South Africa.
2005: Registers maiden century with 108 in the second match in Bloemfontein. Scores further centuries in East London and Centurion. Becomes the fastest man in history to reach 500 one-day international runs.
2005: Scores 57 and 64 on Test debut against Australia, then hits century to rescue England, who claim the Ashes with a draw in the final Test at The Oval.
2006: Becomes the first batsman since 1990 to score a century in three successive Test innings on English soil with 142 against Sri Lanka.
2007: Posts his highest score of 226 in the second Test against the West Indies at Headingley.
2008: Replaces Michael Vaughan as Test captain and Paul Collingwood as one-day skipper, leading England to a 4-0 thrashing of South African in the one-day series.
2009: Reports of a rift between Pietersen and coach Peter Moores surface and he resigns as England captain.
November 2010-January 2011: On top form in England's Ashes series win in Australia, with the highlight a career-best 227 in Adelaide.
2012: Fined by the ECB for a Twitter outburst against Sky commentator Nick Knight.
2012: Retires from one-day and Twenty20 internationals.
- After scoring a superb 149 against South Africa at Headingley, casts doubt on his Test future, claiming "obstacles" must be overcome in order for him to continue beyond the third Test against South Africa at Lord's.
- Declares his intention to represent England in all forms of cricket on YouTube, but is dropped from England squad for third Test.
- Apologises for sending "provocative texts to my close friends in the SA team" but it's not enough for the ECB, with managing director Hugh Morris saying "further discussions" are needed before Pietersen can be recalled.