England news September 3, 2010

'Time in the middle' vital for Pietersen - Flower

Cricinfo staff

England coach Andy Flower has suggested that Kevin Pietersen's omission from the Twenty20 and one-day squads for the remaining international games of Pakistan's tour was prompted by the batsman's recent dip in form, and that the break might allow Pietersen to find some self-belief playing county cricket for Surrey ahead of a five-Test Ashes series in Australia this winter.

"Selection matters are always very tricky because you are talking about people's careers and their lives," said Flower. "In this particular one, it was very simply for ODI purposes and was a performance decision. Kevin would acknowledge himself he has underperformed over the last 12 to 24 months.

"And on the Twenty20 side, we decided to leave him out because there is a four-day game starting for Surrey on the day the second Twenty20 game takes place and with our priority being the Ashes we thought it best he gets the opportunity of four days of good cricket at The Oval on a good pitch and time in the middle.

"That will be very important for him to get his confidence back and to find the rhythm of batting for long times again."

England may also be without Stuart Broad for the Twenty20s in Cardiff on September 5 and 7 after the fast bowler suffered some groin discomfort during training. Broad will be reassessed on Saturday, and so could potentially still take part in the games, but Ajmal Shahzad has been called up as cover in case he does not recover in time.

Flower insisted his team are focussed on the forthcoming Twenty20 and one-day series despite the ongoing turmoil surrounding Pakistan. Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir will play no part in the games after being suspended by the ICC while investigations into allegations of spot-fixing continue.

"There has been a lot going on, some of it very unsavoury. No-one wants that sort of news on the front or back page. But we have to focus on playing the game. We have a Twenty20 game on Sunday which we are working towards and we want to keep it as simple as that. We don't want to live in a world of 'what ifs' and we are looking forward to the game on Sunday.

"We have to see the outcome of these investigations first but obviously it's not a very healthy position we seem to find ourselves in right now. But the game will survive. It's a great, great game, people love playing it and people love watching it and that's why it will survive."