The Ashes 2013-14 January 7, 2014

Flower denies KP ultimatum reports


Andy Flower has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement that describes as "totally inaccurate" reports that he has told the ECB he will resign as coach unless Kevin Pietersen is dropped.

In the wake of the 5-0 Ashes whitewash Flower said he was not willing to discuss the futures of individual players and that was followed by a report in the Guardian, also run in various other UK national newspapers, that his relationship with Pietersen had fallen apart.

"Following speculation in the media today I feel it necessary to reiterate much of what I said in my recent press conference," Flower said. "It would be sensible and responsible to review the tour in a calm and logical manner before assessing our options for the future and planning ahead.

"I repeat that neither I nor the wider ECB leadership group have made any decisions as to the future involvement of any individuals in the playing group or in the support staff. The reports that I have issued an ultimatum of some description to the ECB are totally inaccurate."

Earlier, Pietersen had taken to Twitter to make public his desire to play the next Ashes in 2015. "Very disappointed to lose 5-0, and not to score more runs personally. Tough tour against a top class team." Pietersen posted. "I want to thank all the England fans for their terrific support. And I'm determined to help regain the Ashes in 2015."

But that decision ultimately rests with Flower, England's team director, and perhaps the captain, Alastair Cook. Flower's mood has probably not been lightened by a suggestion from Michael Vaughan, a former England captain, that Pietersen should become vice-captain deliberately to break down a culture of "yes men" that has grown up around the England set-up.

Vaughan has since expressed the fear that Pietersen could become the scapegoat for England's Ashes defeat . "I hope England do not take the easy way out of this mess by making Kevin Pietersen the victim for the Ashes whitewash," he wrote.

Flower has wasted no time in indicating to the new managing director of England cricket, Paul Downton, that he wants full authority to rebuild England's Test side as he sees fit, with the final say on selection.

What remains unclear is how much that would impact upon Pietersen if such power was granted. In comments immediately after the series, Flower merely remarked: "There are always some personal agendas in most teams. No team is perfect and our team is no different. Team spirit always gets its closest examination under pressure and we have been put under a tremendous amount of pressure by a good side on their home turf. That is one area we will look at."

But Flower's mistrust of Pietersen is rarely far from the surface and he may see this as an opportunity to build a new young side without what he might regard as rebellious influences.

Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, has no doubt about naming the culprit, real or imaginary: "So adamant is Flower that the presence of Pietersen in the dressing room is detrimental to the future development of the side that he is believed to be prepared to resign his position should Downton, James Whitaker, the new national selector, and Cook - if he retains the captaincy - insist that Pietersen should be a part of that process."

He refers to Flower's relationship with Pietersen since the long-running furore in 2012 as nothing better than "an uneasy truce" and claims: "On this tour, despite his assurances before his 100th Test in Brisbane that he was committed to England to 2015 and beyond, it is thought that Pietersen's influence in the dressing room has been divisive."

Part of the debate around Pietersen's future stems from his fitness; he needed an injection in his knee before the Ashes began having been forced home from the tour of New Zealand in March and then did not play again until shortly before the Ashes in England.

His workload is being carefully managed by the ECB, including being rested from the one-day series against Australia which starts in Melbourne on Sunday. It remains to be seen whether he will play on the short tour of West Indies which starts at the end of February although would be expected to feature at the World Twenty20, despite only playing once for England in that format for almost two years.

The man himself has always insisted he wants to be part of England's attempt to regain the Ashes in 2015. He has also spoken about a target of 10,000 Test runs - he currently stands on 8181 after a disappointing return of 294 runs at 29.40 in Australia, although that still made him England's leading run-scorer.

Pietersen's involvement in IPL, however, will add to the tension, amid speculation that players will have to sign three-year contracts and be available throughout the tournament. Neither undertaking has yet been demanded by the franchises and, if it was made, the reverberations would stretch much further than Kevin Pietersen.

*January 7, 15.30 GMT: This article was updated with new material

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on January 10, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster - 1stly I said I wasn't sure if he'd do the IPL this year or not and not that I didn't think he'd do IPL this year. However I'd still say it's in the balance. The guy seems pretty fragile these days and let's not forget that he withdrew from last years IPL and he has no franchise at present either. He openly criticised his workload for England which IMO was not best clever if he wanted to play IPL as it's a ready made reason for Eng withdrawing him from the IPL as it's the man himself who's said about too much cricket. I also wonder if some IPL franchises will be put off by his recent laboured style and the fact that he seems so fragile physically? And ECB have shown that they do have the guts to do what they want in the past with KP. Listen , I'm not saying he shouldn't play IPL - just giving you reasons why he may not

    PS - Be honest with me here - if all the franchises saw of KP was what he'd done in 2013 , would he be that attractive?

  • Jay on January 9, 2014, 22:02 GMT

    @JG2704: Why do you feel KP isn't going to play in this year's IPL ? I don't think the ECB have the guts to tell KP in his face that he ain't playing in the IPL this season. Also, it doesn't make sense for the ECB to deny ANY English player from playing this year's tournament given that the English summer begins with ODI cricket against SL. Surely your team needs KP/Butler in top form against the Lankans. I hope KP plays for the Delhi Daredevils. Speaking of Butler, I think he will be a fine player for any club that picks him up. It is rumoured Butler could be picked up first round along with Corey Anderson of NZ and Quinton De Kock of SA. Obviously, not everyone will love Butler cause we all support different teams lol but yes he's surely a wonderful talent.

  • John on January 9, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    @ maximum6 on (January 9, 2014, 0:12 GMT) re "kP is arguably in the same class as Sir Viv"

    I'd say a definite no to that. But one thing Viv had throughout his career was an intimidating presence. He'd come out helmetless and chewing gum against some of the most ferocious bowlers. However I'm sure KP used to have an intimidating aura about him but I'm not so sure these days. You take away his intent and his arsenal of unorthodox shots and he becomes half the batsman. I'm wondering if flamboyant shots are being coached out of our game? For me there's room for calculated/well executed unorthodox shots in the test arena too. Funny I've also seen less of the scoop from Buttler recently. You don't want him to overuse it but neither do you want him to put it away completely

  • John on January 9, 2014, 19:09 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (January 8, 2014, 20:35 GMT) I'm not going to say I sense disharmony among the players and obviously if they're seen all together partying and looking pretty jolly we'd all be pretty angry after the way they played. The team remind me of the confidence lacking unit (more so) in UAE. We have the ODIs/T20s to come but no KP involvement. And yes I know many neutrals want to see KP in these games but KP kind of made a rod for his own back by saying the schedule is too demanding - even though he played less cricket than any other England player in the last year. Not sure if he'll be doing the IPL this year but if he does it'll be interesting to see if he gets his unorthodox reverse shots out etc. PS I hope Buttler gets a gig at IPL - If he's on form your fans will love him

  • John on January 9, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 8, 2014, 14:05 GMT) If you read the post more clearly the person is saying that the reason for singling out Monty and KP (and listing all the others) is because they are not English even though Monty is born and bred in England. Also I don't think folk are singling out those 2 players.

    @Jonathan Jono Lane on (January 8, 2014, 14:39 GMT) You're totally spot on here. I used the word IF when referring to what may have been said , but having said that I think Flower should go whether he is anti KP or his best friend. Our slide since the end of 2011 has been alarming

  • John on January 9, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    @grantleyp on (January 8, 2014, 13:21 GMT) Rubbish. Most of the below weren't good enough over a long enough period of time - the exception for me (and this isn't Somerset bias) is Caddick. You've basically just picked out a load of name players who weren't good enough to play for England over a period of time and because they were not born in this country put that as the reason why they got dropped or whatever. And what about Hick (who btw I loved as a player) - he spent years underachieving as an England player? I could say what about Brian Rose,Vic Marks,Mark Lathwell,Richard Johnson and Neil Mallender (actually the latter 2 have excellent bowling stats for England)- there must be an anti Somerset bias and I'm sure every county fan can name players who have played a low number of tests for England

  • shahid on January 9, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    KP is not only the best batsman in the English team but that X factor too which makes fans around the globe watching English team play.

  • Akshay on January 9, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    In my mind England will be shooting themselves on the foot if they drop KP...I feel he is the spine of the England middle order..By dropping him the England batting will be spineless. Remember he was the person to seal the ashes in 2005 courtesy of his century thus ending a 16 year drought. Thanks to him England got their hands on their first global trophy (ICC T20 World cup 2010). moreover along with cook he anchored England's series win in India. Yes there might be diiferences between andy flower and KP, but remember KP has been an integral member in making England number 1. So Flower and KP should come together and resolve their issue and keep in mind the interest of England first. I feel KP has a lot to offer England because I think he is just not a great batsman but also a talent that wont come to often for England

  • Dummy4 on January 9, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    Pietersen has talent, no doubt about it... but trouble follows him EVERYWHERE he goes. I have no doubt that he causes problems in the dressing room.

  • Obert on January 9, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    It is this strong desire to control and compartmentalise players that has killed the England enthusiasm and individual flair. Team management has to learn to be less of control freaks and allow people to be themselves as long as they are delivering what is required of them. What does the England management team think they are doing - running a military barrack camp??