As England chase 413 runs to avoid going two down in a five Test Ashes series, Kevin Pietersen has ramped up the pressure on director of cricket Andrew Strauss over his handling of the Ben Stokes affair.
Stokes' hopes of an Ashes call-up rest as much in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service as those of the selectors, as it deliberates over whether to charge the all-rounder over his part in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub in September, which left his tormentor with a fractured eye socket.
Thus far, the ECB have refused to close the door on an all-rounder seen as pivotal to England's hopes.
Instead, it has given Stokes' hopes of bolstering an England tail which has shown little resistance to the Aussie bowling attack a timely boost by clearing him to play domestic cricket just across the water in New Zealand.
However, Pietersen has joined a chorus of commentators calling on Strauss to make a decisive call now.
"He's [Strauss] the one who's going to make this call about if and when Stokes returns. This is his biggest decision," he told the Mail on Sunday, before adding: "It would be wrong for Stokes to be on this tour."
Pietersen continued: "From what we've seen on that coverage, that bloke doesn't play for England again for a while.
"I like Ben Stokes and I think he's a brilliant cricketer, but when you jump into the realm of being an international sportsman, there are do's and there are don'ts.
"The don'ts are swearing at somebody in public, telling someone to go away if they ask you for an autograph, being out at night in the middle of a Test match. What he did, it doesn't even fall into the don'ts. It is a lot worse than the don'ts."
Coming from the man alleged to have committed high treason by sending defamatory text messages regarding colleagues to the South Africans in 2012, Pietersen's words are pretty damning.
But, given one of those colleagues included Strauss, it's hard not to question the timing of Pietersen's comments, given one of Strauss' first acts on appointment in 2015 was to rule out a recall for Pietersen.
Either way, a decision on Stokes may be made for Strauss, with the former struggling for form since recovering from a hand injury sustained in the aforementioned brawl, hitting just two runs from seven balls for Canterbury in his first match back at the crease.
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