The retired cricketer’s account has been locked – apparently for violating Twitter ’s rules against abuse and harassment – after he threatened to slap the controversial TV presenter.

In a tweet which Morgan has acknowledged as a joke, Pietersen wrote: “@piersmorgan I slap you when I see you! That won’t be nonsense!”

A screenshot of Twitter’s explanation read: “You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone … This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.”

Kevin Pietersen has been locked out of Twitter

Reacting on the platform, however, Morgan called for Pietersen’s account to be reinstated: “Amusing though this is, it was an obvious joke.”

Morgan explained that “I don’t feel remotely harassed” and taunted Pietersen, saying that the batsman “can’t slap his way out of a paper bag”.

The dispute began when Morgan attacked the UK Government for the timing of their decision to loosen the coronavirus lockdown in England.

Piers Morgan and Kevin Pietersen

The Good Morning Britain presenter wrote: “Reopening Britain’s pubs on a sunny Saturday in July was dumb enough. Letting them open from 6am is stupefyingly stupid.

“Does anyone at No10 have a brain? Or do they just want us all to die? Serious questions.”Pietersen, who turned 40 last week, responded that he believes it is safe for pubs to open.

He tweeted: “Average age to die is around 80! Small % death rate. Stop your nonsense, fat boy!”

It was Morgan’s comeback, accusing Pietersen of talking “nonsense”, that elicited the supposedly abusive response from the ex-England star.

Pietersen – who rose to fame when England won the Ashes in 2005 and captained his country for a short spell – now describes himself as a conservationist, having been axed from England’s squad under controversial circumstances in 2014.

Morgan, an outspoken sports fan, was a prominent defender of Pietersen at the time.