05/07/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 05/07/2014 18:59 BST

Andrew Strauss Just Called Kevin Pietersen 'An Absolute C***' On Live TV

England's cricket captain Andrew Strauss, left, and batsman Kevin Pietersen chat during a practice session ahead of their second test cricket match against Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Sky Sports has been forced to issue an embarrassing apology after former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss was overheard calling controversial former teammate Kevin Pietersen 'an absolute c***' during a live TV commentary.

The cringe-worthy slip-up occurred during a break in play in a match that Pietersen, 34, is playing between the MCC and a Rest Of The World XI to celebrate the Lord's bicententary. Although the remarks weren't heard in the UK, they were streamed to Sky's broadcast partners overseas, including Fox Sports in Australia. Strauss has been a regular in the Sky commentary box since his retirement in 2012.

The comments, which likely relate to a bitter public falling out between the two former stars in 2012, brought an immediate call from staunch Pietersen supporter Piers Morgan for Strauss to be sacked.

Following a Sky mea culpa, a red-faced Strauss, 37, was then wheeled out to issue a grovelling personal apology for his language.

"I apologise unreservedly, particularly to Kevin Pietersen," Strauss said. "I am mortified and profusely sorry." Co-commentator, Michael Atherton, himself a former England captain, then added: "I think that's covered it; let's move on."

Pietersen was finally sacked by the England team earlier this year after a series of destabilising controversies that also claimed the scalp of coach Peter Moores, who has since been rehired.

One of the final straws for team management was revelations that Pietersen sent a series of highly critical text messages to South African players about then-captain Strauss in 2012.

The texts, which were brushed off by South African players as "banter", brought a terse response from Strauss, in words that could come back to haunt him following his commentary controversy. Strauss said he was a "big believer in not airing dirty laundry in public" and that he had "always got on very well" with Pietersen". Adding: I’ve tried to be honest with him, and he’s been honest with me. That’s why this has all been a bit of a surprise".

Pietersen, a regular on Twitter with over 1.8m followers, is yet to respond to Strauss' comments.

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andrew strauss

India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar right, waves with Strauss, left, from the Royal Box on centre court at Wimbledon last week