South Africa's players are "awaiting an apology" for the suggestion from England cricket chief David Collier that some of their number provoked Kevin Pietersen into sending controversial text messages.

ECB chief executive Collier told BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday Pietersen's messages were replies to players from the South Africa team, who had "provoked the situation". But Collier's assertion has angered the South African players, according to Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association.

"Our players are angered by David Collier's claims that they employed unfair and unsporting tactics against Kevin," Irish told Cricinfo. "By his own admission Mr Collier never saw any text messages, or correspondence, and we know that Kevin himself has never suggested that he was provoked, so where is the evidence for this claim?"

Pietersen was left out of the final Test between the two nations in the summer and was then omitted from the World Twenty20 squad following allegations he sent messages to members of the South Africa team criticising then England captain Andrew Strauss.

The 32-year-old apologised for sending the messages last week and signed a new central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board after the two sides agreed "a process for his re-integration into the England team".

Irish added: "In international cricket, if a player makes an inflammatory comment or accusation he gets punished. Look what happened to Kevin Pietersen himself.

"The players think that the same should apply to administrators, especially when this is done publicly. Our players are awaiting an apology."

Collier said at the weekend: "There was definitely a policy that was happening but we shouldn't blame the South Africans, we should be above that."

He added: "I think there was a tactic which was used."

But South Africa captain Graeme Smith has flatly denied that, telling Cricinfo: "We play hard but we play fair and any suggestion that we did this as a tactic is totally unwarranted and unnecessary."