England look to rebuild bridges as Pietersen returns to fold
CRICKET:ANDY FLOWER has indicated his determination to rebuild his relationship with Kevin Pietersen with the expectation that the saga will finally be brought to an end in Colombo today. England’s team director, however, did suggest that any contract that Pietersen may have agreed would be only the first steps back into the fold.
Pietersen has not played for England since making 149 in the second Test against South Africa in August after a storm over his text messages to South Africa players which allegedly contained “derogatory” references to then England captain Andrew Strauss.
“It will be a relief,” Flower said in Kandy yesterday, the day after England went out of the World T20 tournament, having promised a press conference within 36 hours at which Giles Clarke, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, is expected to confirm Pietersen’s return.
“If we can get the formal, sort of legal side of things that has been ongoing for weeks behind us we can move forward with the day-to-day team stuff.”
Flower also admitted England’s campaign would have had a greater chance of success if Pietersen had been playing in Sri Lanka.
“We definitely missed him, there’s no doubt about that,” said Flower. “It would have helped our batting side to have him.”
While England’s top three indeed struggled to score runs, this was no acknowledgement from Flower that Pietersen should somehow have been in the original squad. In his eyes that was never an option.
The Pietersen affair, which is anticipated to be heading to some sort of conclusion in Colombo with the unlikely prospect of Clarke and Pietersen sharing a platform, has been an additional strain on the party, especially those in charge.
With a resolution of sorts seemingly around the corner, Flower did not openly admit that this saga had affected him. He did not have to. “I have been fully focused on my job as coach,” he said. “Part of the job, part of why Hugh Morris employs me is that you have to deal with whatever situations come your way so you can’t do anything about it.”
Asked directly about how he saw Pietersen, he replied enigmatically: “We all have good and bad in us.”
It remains a matter of conjecture, not all of it optimistic, whether Pietersen can be successfully reintegrated into the England team. It is also tricky to establish when this might happen. In the meantime, Pietersen – once his TV commitments have been completed with the World T20 final – flies to South Africa on Monday to play for Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League.