Pietersen's future on the line
With Andy Flower, it is how he says nothing that can sometimes be most revealing. The England coach looked weary when he addressed the press corps at the Sydney Cricket Ground on what should have been the fourth day's play of the final Test.
Instead, England's capitulation inside three days, their most craven defeat of this harrowing series, meant the day was given over to the post-mortem of a particularly battered corpse.
Other than an endorsement of Alastair Cook's captaincy, Flower would not talk about individual players. His repeated refusal to discuss Kevin Pietersen's role was done more pointedly, implying that Pietersen's future was probably top of the agenda when he attended a meeting with Paul Downton, the new MD of England cricket, yesterday.
When asked directly if Pietersen was part of England's future, Flower was vague. "This will be a new start, and so it should be," he said. "It does feel like the end of some type of era. We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again. And we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months."
Pietersen had a poor series but he was not alone. Indeed, only Ben Stokes averaged above 30 with the bat, his hundred being England's only one to Australia's 10, the highest differential ever in a five-match series. It was Cook, not Flower, who pushed for Pietersen's return to the side after 'message-gate' in 2012, and there has always been the feeling that an uneasy peace existed between the team's director and their self-appointed superstar.
You can certainly see Flower and Pietersen clashing over the Indian Premier League, especially if, as is reasonable, Flower demands that everyone bar Cook, Stokes and Stuart Broad needs to justify their selection for the summer's Sri Lanka Test series with runs in county cricket. Flower will not resign despite the embarrassment of the whitewash. "I've been very proud to be part of English cricket," he said. "I was not proud of the way we performed in this Test."
"I think Alastair Cook can lead the renewal," he added. "We should review all our selections and we should review ourselves -- the support staff. I think our methods, our environment and our personnel all need to be looked at." (© Daily Telegraph, London)