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Flower concern over Pietersen role

George Dobell

June 12, 2012

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen celebrates his second hundred in consecutive matches, Pakistan v England, 4th ODI, Dubai, February 21, 2012
Kevin Pietersen's one-day career is over, much to the disappointment of Andy Flower © Getty Images
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Andy Flower, England's director of cricket, has voiced concern that Kevin Pietersen will become detached from the rest of the England squad and will come to regret his decision to retire from limited-overs international cricket.

"Even Andrew Strauss found it difficult with only playing the Test game," Flower said. "Part of our challenges are to constantly work on our unity and harmony. It is a danger that he could become detached but I hope it is not the case."

Flower said that he tried in vain to dissuade Pietersen from a retirement from ODI cricket, which was announced on May 31, during discussions that had been ongoing for about 18 months.

England's most box-office batsman has made it clear that he would like to continue to play Twenty20 internationals, but this was refused because the terms of England's central contracts state that players must be available for both limited-overs formats to be considered for either.

"I think it's sad for Kevin that he won't be playing all three forms of the game in international cricket," Flower said. "I'm not annoyed. I think it's quite sad. He's very clear about what he wants to do, so that's his choice.

"He's a very fine international cricketer; he makes us stronger when he plays. I tried on a number of occasions to dissuade him for, what I believe, is his own good, but that's by the by. He makes his own decisions.

"I just thought that after you've retired from sport and you look back at your career he might think: 'Crikey, I wish I'd taken part in more World Cups and helped win the 2015 World Cup with England.' They are great memories and I think it's a little sad he won't get those opportunities anymore.

"He told me he didn't want to play one-day cricket anymore. We discussed it fully and the ECB explained very clearly what the ramifications were. He was aware he was on a contract. I don't know exactly what's been happening in his mind."

Flower countered Pietersen's justification for his one-day retirement that the international schedule had become too heavy by revealing that he would have been rested from the ODI series against West Indies anyway.

"Kevin was due to be rested for this one-day series with the West Indies. But I don't think resting him for the Australian one-day series and South African one-day series was an option. These are two of the best cricketing nations in the world and we want to put out strong sides against them."

The ECB's determination not to allow ODI cricket to be degraded - winning a global ODI tournament remains a top priority - and fear of a widespread withdrawal of players from 50-over cricket was the reason for their uncompromising insistence that England players must be available for both one-day formats.

"What is important is the reasons behind the ECB policy," Flower said. And the reasons behind that policy is that 50-over cricket is an integral part of the goals set that the ECB want the international team to achieve. For the first time they want them to win a 50-over World Cup competition. There's also the ICC Champions Trophy; that's also a clear goal of the ECB.

"There is also the status of ODI cricket, not only in this country but over the world, to take into consideration and when making these policy decisions you have to consider the precedents. And if that policy encourages five or six other top class international players to retire from international one-day cricket, you are degrading the status of ODI cricket in this country and the world."

Flower was reluctant to be drawn on England's heavy international schedule. "I think there's very limited influence I have on the schedule. The schedule is tough, there's no doubt about that. If you have been involved in that over a period of time it's tough. My job is to try and manage it as well as possible."

As he remarked, with reference to the debate that followed the resting of James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the third Test at Edgbaston, that was not always easy.

Flower denied that there was any problem with his own relationship with Pietersen. "I have read occasionally our relationship is not great, but actually I think we get on pretty well," he said. "We're fairly honest with each other and I think we have quite a good working relationship. I hope he can really enjoy the years of Test cricket that are ahead of him and I hope he does brilliantly in them.

"He's got his game into really good order at the moment. Technically he's really sound. He's done some great work with Mushtaq Ahmed and Graham Gooch on his batting, especially his playing of spin. His new method worked and you probably saw evidence of that on Sunday in the way he played their spinner."

Flower also confirmed that Pietersen will play four T20 games for Surrey - three at the Kia Oval and one at Hove - before playing one championship match against Lancashire at Guildford in preparation for the Investec Test series against South Africa. Flower also confirmed that talks about Andrew Strauss going on loan, probably to Somerset, had "been mooted".

"Between now and the South African Test series the amount of four-day cricket available to Strauss is non-existent," Flower said. "He's got one game before the Test series so it is a bit of a problem. How we deal with that is not that easy. Myself, Andrew Strauss and Graham Gooch have an idea about how we can do that but it's not ideal. It's tricky but no decisions have been made."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JG2704 on (June 14, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

@simon_w on (June 14 2012, 05:43 AM GMT) I think you're definitely right re poor timing from KP. That's why I thought at the time it was to do with NK fine. It seems a complex issue. I remember when Swann openly said he didn't like the OD format it was after a horrible tour of India whereas KP has been in great form in that format and resting him from the WI series would surely help relieve the workload. I still wonder if there'smore behind it than meets the eye , or it could be that it's just a case of 2 stubborn parties digging their heals in

Posted by Deez0 on (June 14, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

KP's retirement from the shorter form of the game is unfortunate,but the ECB do have options...its been a while since a new South African has played for "England". All they need to do is send some scouts to the provinces in South Africa and throw some money at our talented youngsters...that way they will ensure that " England" remain competitive.

Posted by simon_w on (June 14, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

@nlight -- I agree, I don't understand why KP feels the need to do this, to be honest. I also agree with Michael Vaughan (which doesn't happen all that often!) -- KP would have had the WI ODIs off, and then he could have played a few games against Australia and SA (surely not too hard to get up for?) and then gone into the World T20. If he was going to retire from limited-overs cricket, surely that would have been a better time to do it? He was playing a game of brinksmanship with the ECB, but surely he must have realized they simply couldn't have afforded to blink first? I'm sure the ECB would like to bend the rules for him, but they can't been seen to break them.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (June 13, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

A couple of things here worth a comment- a) i am very happy to hear that all is well on a personal level between Flower and KP. Maybe the media will go somewhere else for a story. England seid eis full of strong characters and it would be extraordinary if there were not some disagreements/ lively discussions as well as a lot fun and cameraderie. b) The fisture list has this massive chunk of t20 onlky cricket which is less than helpful for anyone like Strauss and needs overhauling i.e having 2 1st class games before the second series starts should be mandatory. Lets not have Stauss going down to Somerset again for cricket. it just looks odd. Anyway one hopes things go upward and onward for Engalnd

Posted by ProdigyA on (June 13, 2012, 17:20 GMT)

England is getting as un-united as the Pak team.

Posted by getsetgopk on (June 13, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

Hope is one thing, reality unfortunately quite another, I dont see him gelling into England setup only time will tell but i feel its gona end ugly!

Posted by nlight on (June 13, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

Due respect to the rest of the England t20 squad, but we know that KP is the man most likely to play a match-winning innings.

To go into the t20 world cup without him for the sake of some self-imposed restriction is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Posted by StoneRose on (June 13, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

ECB policy is wrong. This clause does not uphold the status of English and world ODI cricket - winning the world cup is a more worthwhile raison d'etre than a clause. As Pietersen has proven the clause downgrades ODI cricket.

Posted by Meety on (June 13, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding - yep, IMO, it makes KPs decision, (particularly if he only plays in the IPL, in terms of foreign T20 leagues as he stated), very reasonable in light of the experiences. I must admit, my first reaction, (like others), was it was a childish sort of reaction to being hauled over the coals for Tweeting. The other main fact is, he has got a young family & man that does change your perspective on life! @JG2704 - know where you are coming from regarding a "play for pay" type contract, however, I think that could lead to team instability, (maybe dunno). @Narkovian - I agree, I think KP was/is always a man apart, & the main trick Eng management have had to perform over the years is to wed him to the team ethos, allowing for the odd minor deviation from him.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2012, 12:41 GMT)

50-over ODI cricket should be downgraded out of existence - it looks increasingly pointless, particularly when we get Australia coming for five meaningless games. 20-20 and Tests are enough, and England should have completely separate squads for each, with no overlap.

Posted by rksr75 on (June 13, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

absolutely no comparison between strauss and kp...give him a break!!

Posted by Richard_B on (June 13, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

KP is a pop star. Bands are known to break up some times, only to re-unite for sell-out tours with massive exposure and anticipation a few years down the line - succumbing despite their convictions, for the sake of their loyal fans. I would be willing to bet big money (if i had it) on KP playing limited overs for England again in a couple of years time, and certainly in the next WC.

Posted by whatawicket on (June 13, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

me think KP is a very complex person, that been so is very hard work. at 32 i would think he would want to play as much cricket as he could. as captain who would think he could get away with saying get rid of the coach. most times he should use the old adage make sure brain is in gear before opening mouth. all cricketers can say they want to spend more time with their families and you cannot blame them. but they have also got to provide for their family. as for the coach this guy was also a great cricketer so he must know about the pressure of that. KP has change his mind so often you would not bet in 3 month he could reverse that decision. you cannot make one rule for one and not for another.

Posted by Noball_Specialist on (June 13, 2012, 10:34 GMT)

That IPL money will comfort his feelings of detachment.

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 13, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

By retiring now, KP has extended his career until next year's Ashes. It will only be then that Pattinson ends his career, rather than the upcoming ODI clashes.

Posted by CricFin on (June 13, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

Then ask ECB to change to rules.Please do not compare Strauss and KP.It is an insult to KP.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 13, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

@meety, it does add an interesting twist to the time line, and if KP has been thinking about this for 18 odd months, it takes us back to the Ashes, followed by 7 ODI's (everyone agreed that was overkill, even flower wanted less ODI's), which were then closely followed by the WC, I think the England players were away for 6-7 months in total....Its also interesting to note that KP was due to be rested for the WI's ODI's and you can also understand the Coach wanting his best players for the ODI's against Aus and SA.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 13, 2012, 8:27 GMT)

@satish619chandar on (June 13 2012, 03:26 AM GMT) I do wonder about it all leading to KP giving up tests but I can't see him ever playing for SA. I would have thought they had a qualification time and probably (if KP were to requalify) SA would be looking to blood younger players anyway and I just don't feeleither party would feel comfortable about that situation. Add to that (and I don't know the figures) I guess Eng are paying considerably better wages than SA so I think if he does stop playing for Eng he'd probably just look to do more T20 stuff

Posted by JG2704 on (June 13, 2012, 8:19 GMT)

Not sure how it all works but does every player have a contract to play these days? I mean when a player is called up - Bairstow in tests eg - is he automatically bound to a contract? I thought they did these contracts each year and there have been players who have played for England after the contracts were handed out and they were not included.Wondering if England/KP could have sorted out a deal where KP was only paid for matches in which he played and therefore if KP was offered certain games and he turned them down then others could come in and if they did a decent job it would be a gamble bt KP.I know it goes against continuity but I'd love to find a way of getting KP to the T20WC.After that it would give them more time to build for the 2015 OD WC. It still seems there's more to this story than meets the eye.I actually wonder if IPL pays significantly well that KP won't need to play tests?Also wonder if Swann (esp), Broad and Bres would quit these fmts if they they were in IPL?

Posted by Narkovian on (June 13, 2012, 8:05 GMT)

Pietersen was already "detached". Pietersen is Pietersen... England Team is England team. The two meet up occasionally on the cricket field. Sure he's a great talent. But one man is and should not be above the game. Players think they are overworked these days... Not so. At the end of the season look and see how many overs/ innings ENG players have played. Don't include those which they did not HAVE to play, like IPL. Most humble club players, and certainly County players will have played a lot more. Having said that, there is far too much Intl cricket. It is now de-valued and in the main,instantly forgettable.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2012, 8:00 GMT)

I would like to think that Andy Flower would approach KP again after he has had time away from the game to think things through. I too am sure KP is going to miss the game once he is only playing tests. Would like to see him back in Sri Lanka.He has mastered the wickets there better than anyone else. Please Andy, talk him round.

Posted by jb633 on (June 13, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

It seems to me that only Duncan Fletcher has managed to get the real best out of KP. I believe this stems from his hands off approach as it were and his emphasis on the individual approach rather than the team. I am not suggesting that Flower is wrong in his methods, but I think he has a tight control over the English players and there is little flair in this side. Whilst it can be argued that this is the best Eng side we have had in years, I actually think that we have beaten some average sides and that when we played in difficult conditions UAE, we came unstuck. In conditions like that, team ethic and so on do not win you games. It is individual brilliance and flair. The way KP batted against Pak this winter was indicitve of a player who was playing with a fear of getting out, rather than playing his natural game. I think Flower's approach seems a bit regimented and he fears from experiemnting ( five bowlers). I fear that English cricket will be losing there best player here.

Posted by   on (June 13, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

@elsmallo: SA and Eng are two good sides and having them play 5 test matches against each other makes sense. But Having India and England play 5 test matches(2014) is pointless bcoz the current India youngsters will replicate the 2011 performance in 2014 as well. When deciding the schedule, they should not blindly make fixtures. Top teams should play more no of test matches as when compared to average and less than average teams. If I am proved wrong, I will be more than happy.

Posted by veerakannadiga on (June 13, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

as someone below mentioned, looks like KP's gonna retire from Tests soon...KP's issue could have been handled better by ECB & all concerned.

Posted by satish619chandar on (June 13, 2012, 3:29 GMT)

This is the KP.. He didn't change overtime.. He preferred England over SA and he had his own reasons.. Everyone in England were happy to have his ego in the team to win a historical Ashes.. Now when he has his own reasons to prefer as per his wish, they were mourning.. One sided affair this from some fans..

Posted by satish619chandar on (June 13, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

Is it Mr.Flower? Strauss plays in only one format and is he detached? KP just wanted to go away from onr format which he doesn't want to play.. But selectors and the board made him to retire from other format in which he plays best and loves to play.. I seriously doubt how long KP will continue in tests alone if the trend continues in the same vein.. How good are the options for KP to play for his home country SA?

Posted by balajik1968 on (June 13, 2012, 1:07 GMT)

Very strange that Flower should try to clear the air on his relationship with Pietersen. The very fact that he is going to such lengths indicates something is wrong. Surely something could have been worked out. I think it is up to the ECB to sort things out. It is not fair to question KP's commitment. He has been very clear. If it was IPL or England, he chose England.

Posted by Meety on (June 13, 2012, 0:47 GMT)

Not that there is any clear timelines given by Flower, but when he says "...I tried on a number of occasions to dissuade him..." and the authors line about "...during discussions that had been ongoing for about 18 months...", could suggest that KP was considering retirement from ODIs BEFORE the dispute escalated with Knight. This would lend some more credibility to KP's reasoning that the schedule caused him to retire from one format.

Posted by elsmallo on (June 12, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

What's funny about all this is how great they all speak - Flower is a master of the English language and KP, although a tad insincere, is not far off. So they are being masterfully opaque about all this. KP is clearly going to be hard work at times - he was messed about with over the captaincy, must crave the attention he gets in the IPL and probably loathes most of the boring ODI games in comparative backwaters that other guys are probably queuing up to play in. However, I reckon Flower's right and he will desperately miss the ODI WC when it comes not to mention the T20 WC. The schedule tho is the biggest culprit - I know we all like to watch this stuff when it's on even if it's not very good but really there need to be less ODI's, more Tests esp between the big teams. England vs SA summer event only 3 tests? Madness, should be 5.

Posted by Puffin on (June 12, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

Thus is the result of overly rigid, unworkable and counter-productive rules. Hopefully common sense will prevail.

Posted by nareshgb1 on (June 12, 2012, 20:02 GMT)

Mr Flower really takes himself seriously now

Posted by StaalBurgher on (June 12, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

I have never heard of something like that. All the national teams have players that come in and out of ODI/Tests. If your "team harmony" gets screwed up by that then it is indeed very fragile. That might explain why English teams in all sports are always harping on about how "happy" the team is. Same thing being said about the rugby team right now.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 12, 2012, 19:49 GMT)

No one knows what goes on (is said) behind closed doorsbut maybe my Nick Knight theory is incorrect in which case A - It seems really strange that KP would think about the amount of cricket he is playing when he is in such good nick B - I'm very disappointed re the timing. Surely KP and ECB could at least have thrashed out a deal whereby he plays til/inc the T20 world cup. Things just don't seem to add up. I really wouldn't be surprised if KP retired from tests in the next year or so or if there becomes a point where ECB/KP can no longer work together

Posted by 5wombats on (June 12, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

Oh dear... we don't like the look of this. Flower and Pietersen is like the irresistable force versus the immovable object. KP would have problems with anyone who stopped him getting what he wanted. Where will this end?

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 18:23 GMT)

We want him to play World T20. ECB, please change your policy!

Posted by jackiethepen on (June 12, 2012, 18:22 GMT)

Flower has a lot to say about his decision over KP - which suggests that he feels very vulnerable. Some of the justifications seem invented to suit his case. How many cricketers playing T20 and one day cricket actually play Test cricket as well? Broad, Swann, that's it? Are they likely to give up playing one day cricket to concentrate on T20? Only Broad plays in the IPL. Broad is still a young bowler. I think the scenario of players rushing off to T20 bonanza land is nonsense. The young lads are only too keen to play for England. They can't break into Test cricket yet. The one day side only has a few spare places. That leaves T20. Strauss has never played T20 for England. Bell played only a few games. Cook and Trott likewise. Morgan now is out of Test cricket. So that leaves KP as the only batsman in all three forms. No wonder he was fed up. He was the exception he should have been given leave to give up T20 or ODIs if he felt close to burn out.

Posted by   on (June 12, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

Seems Flower hell bent on getting Kevin out of the England Roster # Another sordid story of ego tussles !

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