West Indies v England, 4th ODI, Bridgetown March 29, 2009

Strauss plays down Pietersen comments

Cricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen left the field with a back spasm, but should be physically fit for Friday's series decider © Getty Images

England remain optimistic that both Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen will recover from their respective injuries in time for Friday's ODI series decider against West Indies, after both men were forced to leave the field during England's nine-wicket victory in Barbados on Sunday.

Flintoff required heavy strapping after being hit on the left thumb by a fierce drive from Dwayne Bravo, but an ultra-sound revealed no break and he now has four days in which to recover. Pietersen, meanwhile, left the field after suffering a back spasm while bowling his offbreaks to Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and did not return for the rest of the innings.

The injury had a certain irony about it, seeing as Pietersen had criticised Chanderpaul's regular absences from the field during a newspaper interview in which he had admitted he was "ready to do a Robinho" and fly home from an increasingly unhappy tour. The England management confirmed that Pietersen had been refused permission to leave the tour for 48 hours between the third and fourth Tests to watch his wife, Jessica Taylor, compete in the celebrity talent show, Dancing on Ice.

"The permission wasn't granted because we're on a cricket tour and it sets a bad precedent if people can go home during cricket tours," England's captain, Andrew Strauss, told reporters in Barbados. "He understood that fully and it wasn't an issue by any means and he just got on with it. He's been very supportive all the tour, he's been very professional in the way he's prepared himself.

Nevertheless, the England management remained concerned about Pietersen's outspoken comments in the media, not least because, for all that his concerns about homesickness are valid in their own right, he still intends to fly to South Africa after the series to fulfil his lucrative IPL contract with the Bangalore Royal Challengers. On Sunday, Pietersen told his Sunday newspaper column that being a part of the current England squad was a "pretty damn lonely place to be."

"Sometimes what he says is put in big headlines so he must be conscious of the attention what he says does receive," said Strauss. "I've had a chat to him about what he said and I think it's completely dealt with as far as we're concerned. I don't think anything he said was in a malicious manner and we move on from there and hopefully lessons have been learned."