Tuesday 24 April 2018

Flower: No Pietersen ultimatum

England's Kevin Pietersen and Head coach Andy Flower
England's Kevin Pietersen and Head coach Andy Flower

Nick Hoult

Andy Flower boarded a flight home determined to rebuild the England team around captain Alastair Cook and without the divisive presence of Kevin Pietersen.

England's team director has insisted that he will not pre-empt any England and Wales Cricket Board report into the Ashes fiasco by publicly stating it is a straight choice between him and Pietersen, but will put forward his vision of how the team can be rebuilt around the young captain.

Flower was furious yesterday at claims he had given the ECB an ultimatum over Pietersen, especially because such a move would go against his insistence that a period of reflection was needed before any major decisions were taken.

He also knows that a similar tactic cost Pietersen his job as captain back in 2008 when he demanded the removal of then-coach Peter Moores, who was also dismissed.

But it is understood that Flower recognises the need to reinforce team discipline, particularly with an emerging younger element to the side and he believes it will be tough to do that with Pietersen in the dressing-room.

Pietersen remains professional in training and his work ethic has never been questioned, but the management have become exasperated by what they perceive to be a lackadaisical approach to warm-up matches, the manner of his dismissals in the first three Tests when they needed him to bat responsibly and the influence he is having over younger members of the side, such as Joe Root and Ben Stokes.

Pietersen knows if the ECB back Flower, his time will be up and he is determined not to disappear quietly into the life of a roaming Twenty20 traveller, tweeting that he was "shocked and saddened" by reports about his England future and repeating his "strong desire to continue playing for my country, and help us regain the Ashes in 2015".

Pietersen's tweets emerged about an hour after the ECB put out a statement on behalf of Flower, who said: "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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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