England v Australia 2010 July 1, 2010

Flower comfortable with Pietersen's form

Cricinfo staff

England coach Andy Flower has no concerns about Kevin Pietersen despite his disappointing returns in the one-day series against Australia. Pietersen has started brightly on a number of occasions but hasn't been able to convert into a significant score and his dismissal for 8 at The Oval made it 16 innings without an ODI fifty dating back to November 2008.

After a difficult period in South Africa following his return from the serious Achilles injury that ended his Ashes series last year after two matches, Pietersen slowly found form in Bangladesh before starring at the World Twenty20 in West Indies where he was named Man of the Tournament. However, Pietersen's home season has been littered with cameos and, despite the positive strides made by England, his output remains vital to the batting unit.

"I think he actually looks in superb form," said Flower. "His balance is excellent. He is hitting balls through the off side as well as I have ever seen him. I would not so much look at 16 innings [without an ODI 50]. He has another chance to find the balance in decision-making which allows him to stay at the crease long enough for a big score.

"He is very hungry to do that for England. He wants to be a game-changer and a match-winner. Saturday will be a lovely stage for him at Lord's on a sunny day. It would be great for him to score runs. But I don't think it is a matter of him coming back into form - it is just a matter of him being able to stay long enough at the crease."

Pietersen's mantle as the lynchpin of England's one-day batting has been passed to Eoin Morgan who is the leading run-scorer in the current NatWest series after innings of 103 not out, 52, 27 and 47. His prolific form is heightening calls for him to be given another chance at Test level when the Pakistan series starts at the end of July with an eye on the Ashes.

Flower, though, hinted that Morgan will have to wait his turn with Paul Collingwood set to return to the five-day line-up after being rested against Bangladesh. "I personally don't feel any pressure in trying to get him great exposure at Test level, before he has forced his way into the side or until - through someone else's misfortune, because of injury - he gets another chance," he said.

Morgan couldn't rescue England's run chase on Wednesday although he threatened something spectacular when he twice launched James Hopes for leg-side sixes. However, when he was caught behind off Ryan Harris it was the end of his side's hopes, despite Michael Yardy's 57, amid concerns that the line-up is starting to rest on Morgan's success.

Andrew Strauss made two important half-centuries at Cardiff and Old Trafford, but Paul Collingwood has twice fallen in the 40s while Craig Kieswetter, who was brought in to fire in the first Powerplay, has been troubled by Australia's pace attack.

"The most obvious thing that stands out is the fact we need our top four to get away and get big scores," said Flower. "Cameos are useful, but the really big scores not only change the momentum of the game but often decide the result. We need our top four to get those big scores.

"Eoin Morgan has been superb for us in resurrecting certain circumstances and he started to do it yet again yesterday. But we want to put him in those circumstances less often. We want people like Morgan and [Luke] Wright to be there to improve innings that are already set up rather than having to try to resurrect them."

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  • Bob on July 4, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    I'm more than a little worried about Andy Flower's comments regarding Pietersen... What he seems to be saying is that he isn't concerned about Pieteresen's form as he looks in good touch but he's just not staying at the wicket long enough to score runs. Erm... excuse me ? In my limited knowledge of the game, I always thought that the only way to score runs was to stay in and is one of the most fundamental aspects of form. Or perhaps Flower has caught the Michael Vaughan virus.. "I was in good touch and would have scored a century if I hadn't got out".... Pull the other one Andy. !!

  • Michael on July 2, 2010, 18:05 GMT

    The likes of Shah and Bopara might cut against lowly opposition but they do not have it against the good sides.Bopara may come again if he stops being a showpony, but Shah could only ever bat at 6. There are people like James Taylor coming through now and surley the selectors would give them a go instead of returning to relative failures.

  • Bradley on July 2, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    they could never drop Pietersen...he's a great player. Ravi Bopara has hit a major slump- in the last ashes he had a horribl series and is yet to prove himself at county level

  • Graham on July 2, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    @mus_78 You'd be a brave (or foolish) selector to drop one of the few truly world class players in the side. And I can think of plenty of reasons why Shah has missed the boat and why Bopara isn't being picked. Shah is poor in the field and has a habit of running himself or his partner out. His fitness is also suspect.

    Bopara was found out by the Aussies in the Ashes last year, and I suspect Andy Flower is waiting to reintroduce him in the near future; I'm sure he's still very much in Andy's thinking. Ravi is still young and his time will come. I doubt Shah will get another look in though.

    The big concern to me is Kieswetter; it looks like the Aussies have got his number and he is beginning to look suspect against pace. This is something he really needs to work on if he hopes to carry on as an opener in the shorter forms of the game. But as with Bopara, I think he'll come right.

  • Steve on July 2, 2010, 11:47 GMT

    @mus_78 - They're never going to drop Pietersen, are they? Just think of the storm that would create. I think he looks disinterested and like he couldn't care less, personally, but I still hope he perks up. Wright is improving, especially as a bowler, but I'm not convinced his batting is strong enough at 6. I'm willing to stick with him for a while though to see how he comes along. I don't like Bopara - he's a lazy player who will never understand the talent he clearly has and therefore he will always underachieve. As for Shah, I was sorry to see him dropped - I didn't buy the ridiculous excuse that he was inconsistent as he clearly has not been in the last couple of years. With him, I think it may simply come down to his poor fielding - nothing more than that. I'm not completely won over by Flower as yet either - I have my doubts about his tactics and negativity in test cricket especially, but he's certainly a damn sight better than Moores!

  • Victoria on July 2, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    mus_78 - have you suffered a bump to the head? Owais Shah had ONE decent game in two years, he was an absolute liability in the field, nervy and scratchy at the crease and more often than not ended up cramping - if he managed to stay at the crease long enough. Bopara has good skills, his timing is sublime but his placement is not good enough yet to find the gaps. Wright on the other hand has been a revelation with his bowling, taking wickets at key times. He's had a few low scores but nothing to warrant dropping him. And as for Pietersen's major slump - that's why he won man of the TOURNAMENT in the T20 World Cup is it?? To me, your comments are far more mystifying than Andy Flower's selections.

  • Dummy4 on July 1, 2010, 22:42 GMT

    let's just remember what steve Waugh said once" form is temporary but class is permanent"

    this guy is class ,, end of story.

    anyone who has witnessed recent ODI games know its just his stay that needs to be a concious effort from KP not the form.

    he looks to be in a great touch and hitting the ball ridiclulosly nicely. as they say leave the CHAMPS alone they know jhow to sort out tiny issues..

    i m sure by the time next article comes, we will be hailing KP once again..

  • Mustafa on July 1, 2010, 20:54 GMT

    To me, this Andy Flower character seems really baffling. Pietersen has been going through a major slump and hasn't been consistence ever seen his return from the injury. And yet, he is being picked up again and again. Similarly, Wright has increasingly becoming a liability and hasn't been consistence at all. It makes me feel sorry for guys like Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara. Specially, Shah, who after had been prolific for couple of years got dumped all of a sudden. Can anyone please justify Andy Flower's action and selection choices? It is simply mystifying.

  • Michael on July 1, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    Pietersen looks very good at the wicket, but like Viv Richards before him, there is a time for excessive extravagance of shot and a time for circumspection. On Wednesday he was attempting to play a shot which maybe could have waited in the locker for half an hour. The English mindset needs to shift too from crowning one man as the main batsman/bowler, to empowering each of 11 players to being that. When one falls another must take his place. Which is not to say that KP and Morgan are not very special, but the like of wright need to show why they are in the side too and step forward into the limelight.

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