England's Pietersen dilemma August 21, 2012

IPL 'catalyst' in Pietersen controversy - Flower


Andy Flower, the England team director, has defended England's handling of Kevin Pietersen and suggested that the player's desire to appear in a whole season of the IPL proved to be the catalyst that destabilised his relationship with his team-mates and the ECB.

Flower, speaking for the first time since Pietersen was omitted from the final Test against South Africa, admitted that batsman may never play for England again, but insisted that the team could retain their No.1 Test ranking even without the man many consider to be their best player. Flower also joined those calling for a window in the international schedule for the IPL, though he conceded there was little realistic hope of that at present.

"I think it's fair to say that Kevin's issues over being available for the entire IPL have changed his attitude," Flower said. "I think that was the catalyst for a lot of the stuff.

"The IPL and the international fixtures in England are an area of conflict. And it will continue to be an area of conflict in the future. It would be better if there was a very clear window prior to our international season starting. But it doesn't look like that is an issue that is going to be sorted out in the future so it may well recur."

Flower did accept responsibility for some failures of man management within the England set up, but insisted that Pietersen was guilty of far more serious errors of judgement.

"You are questioning whether he has been managed properly," Flower said. "I suppose it's fair to ask that question. I think that's what we've been doing over the years. There are certain behaviours that are unacceptable and I think we've seen some of that just recently. So to move forward we must get over those hurdles.

"If you are asking if we take some responsibility for it I'm quite happy to take responsibility for a number of issues if that is the case. I don't think text messages from an England player to South African players with some of the content I've heard that is in them is my responsibility.

"I think one issue that I could have handled better is when I heard that some of the players were occasionally looking at that Twitter account that had been set up by some England supporter, or Nottingham supporter. I could have nipped that in the bud earlier.

"But let's just be perfectly clear on the severity of the situation. There is one thing a few players having a giggle at a Twitter account, there is another on some of the issues that we have seen rear their heads over the last two weeks. It is not just about the text messages, there are other issues to be resolved."

Flower confirmed that the ECB had approached officials with the South Africa touring team with a view to being shown the text messages Pietersen sent to their players that are alleged to have contained derogatory comments about England captain Andrew Strauss, but insisted the issue extended deeper than a mere spat between two senior players.

"The issue is not specifically between the captain and Pietersen," Flower said. "There are a number of unresolved issues and it would be inaccurate to judge it as just an issue between those two.

"At this juncture there's no meeting in the diary. We've just finished this Test match. I understand some people would like this resolved overnight, but I don't think it is something that can be resolved overnight if we want to go about it properly. There are a number of outstanding issues to be resolved. An example of that would be finding out exactly what these text messages contained if we do really want to move forward either way.

"I think face to face and man to man, where you can look people in the eye, is always the best way to resolve most issues. I think these things should remain private. I don't think they should be played out in the media so leaking information, using PR agencies etc to resolve this issue is not the correct way to go about it.

"I'm not sure of exactly the best way to investigate it, to be honest. We've tried to focus on playing cricket leading up to this Test match which is how this Test series should have been. It's really sad for everyone involved the focus wasn't on playing cricket here."

Flower was quite clear that Pietersen's current apology - either the YouTube video or the letter sent through his management company - was inadequate and did not constitute a resolution to the situation. He also hinted that it was hard to see the issue being resolved before central contracts are offered to players, which is likely to happen before the team departs for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in mid-September. That suggests Pietersen may well not be considered for England's tour of India. He confirmed that Pietersen would not be offered a central contract until the issues were resolved.

"He sent an apology via his agent to the ECB," Flower said. "If you are going to move on from situations such as this you need to know exactly what situation you are moving on from. So I think we need to get to the bottom of some of this speculation and rumours before we move on.

"Regardless of central contracts, I wouldn't like to put a time frame on it because that might unrealistic. To resolve certain issues of trust and mutual respect, it might take longer than that. I would rather not speculate [on whether Pietersen may have played his last game for England]. But he was speculating on it during the Test series, so there is a chance I suppose.

England's one-day side has shown it can flourish in the absence of Pietersen with Ian Bell slotting into the openers' role, while Alex Hales made 99 in the Twenty20 against West Indies. Flower believes that, if the situation is not resolved, the Test team can move back to the top of the rankings without Pietersen.

"Without a doubt," he said. "English cricket has a great history and it has a great future. It is bigger than any one player. You will always move on from anyone, whether it be a captain, a coach or a player. I think the most important thing is that we do the right thing for England cricket. That's how we will make our decision.

"We try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the England cricket team or English cricket. That is what I've tried to do since I joined this team and that's what I will continue to do."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jason on August 23, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    The IPL is the IPL, and as people have pointed out its not exactly big in the UK, except among the Indian Expat community, in short we're not really tat interested in the IPL, T20 as a concept was implemented to give the counties in England a bit of an income boost as a game can be played after work, in the long run its a hit and giggle form of the game, the fact that the BBL was looking to emply Olympic Sprinters shows the grade of cricket that T20 is pitched at.

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    @Ian Burnett: some body isn't thinking like that,s buddy that's problem

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    @Ankur Singh: It's not that England fans don't like the IPL per se (why should we ?) - it's because it's impossible for fans here to have any affinity with city franchises in games played on the other side of the world. It applies to the BBL and any of the other T20 tournaments around the world. So matches played in all these tournaments mean little here. As matches played here in England mean little to people in India, australia, SA etc.

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    @Venki_indian: Wasn't aware I was blaming India for anything in any of my posts ! You lot are so touchy aren't you ?

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2012, 0:57 GMT

    IPL IPL IPL hahahaha...England Fans dont like IPL, ENGLAND coach doesnt like IPL...and ENG players dont like IPL..but I bet ENG coach will be coaching IPL team in future...ENG players will be playing in IPL in future !! and more funny and interesting fact ...these people are discussing about IPL more than the Indian Fans... !!

  • Steve on August 23, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    @The_Bowlers_Holding..... You are of course ABSOLUTELY right about why England lost to SA and pakistan. No excuses - they're batting was rubbish! And by the way... the_batsman's_Willey. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    @the_bowlers_holding .. I love this game !! and I will comment or follow any link related to any team !!!

  • Subash on August 22, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    @premclement: Good point.7 SA players who played in the recent test series against ENG played in IPL. Now is anyone giving credit to IPL for their teams success NO, so why blame IPL for a team or a persons failure?

  • Rob on August 22, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    Kapil Chetri- and it would be really nice if you stopped commenting on English links. As I said previously I cannot see KP playing for England in any format in the forseeable future, if you look at posts most England fans realise this is the only possible outcome given the nature of what's gone on and the need to maintain team spirit. Those Aussie and SA posters generally agree the only people who are for some reason are incensed are followers of the IPL, I have seen the IPL once and found it silly and inane-however I do not go on links about it deriding it as frankly it is of no interest to me and non of my business. I wish people could just concentrate on their own teams. ps England lost to Pakistan and SA because the opposition plyed better cricket, no excuse about players out etc.

  • Michael on August 22, 2012, 19:35 GMT

    @Munafbhai: 1, "England team never managed to win a single world trophy in last 5 decades till KP came along". Well one could equally well say that "England team" never managed to win a global trophy in the last 5 decades before Ryan Sidebottom came along, or, for that matter, Paul Collingwood, Craig Kieswetter, Stuart Broad, etc, came along, so I don't think that argument takes us far. 2, "For that matter it was KP's flair which leadt to the two sole ashes victory in ages". In fact England have not won "two sole ashes victory in ages", but 3 victories in the last four series. In one of the two most recent such victories KP hardly played because of an Achilles injury, in the most recent he was nowhere near the top of the batting averages, and in the other he was top of the dropped catches league. I think Pietersen a fine player, but anyone who thinks he is the "sole" reason for any recent England success is not a very close watcher of the game.

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