• England's Pietersen dilemma

Pietersen set for showdown talks with Flower

Andrew McGlashan
September 1, 2012 « Man City calm fears of Balotelli layoff | Chartbeat test »
Kevin Pietersen has been in Surrey while out of international action © Getty Images
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Kevin Pietersen was expected to meet with Andy Flower, the England team director, on Saturday in the first stage of trying to save his international career.

Pietersen was dropped for the final Test against South Africa for sending, what he admitted in his first apology to the ECB, were 'provocative' text messages to friends in the South African team. He was also left out of the squad of the World Twenty20 despite making himself available for all cricket in a video posted on YouTube.

Since the situation reached its tipping point in the days following the Headingley Test, when Pietersen gave a press conference where he said "it is tough being me", the ECB have made it clear that the talks to try and resolve the stand-off will be done behind closed doors.

If the meeting with Flower shows progress, beginning with Pietersen providing a full, honest apology, then it is expected that further talks will take place then involving Hugh Morris, the managing director, and possibly new Test captain Alastair Cook.

On Wednesday, when he was confirmed as Andrew Strauss' replacement, Cook said that he would become involved at some point. "I've been on the outside for a lot of the saga," he said. "Clearly I'll get involved over the coming weeks."

Strauss, for his part, insisted that the Pietersen situation had no bearing on his decision to retire although before the Lord's Test against South Africa - which was Strauss' 100th - he admitted to feeling "let down" by Pietersen's actions which are believed to have included texts about Strauss.

Before he stood down, Strauss said it would not be a quick process to reintegrate Pietersen with the team and Flower will want plenty of assurances before showing his faith in the batsman.

While England were playing the opening one-day internationals against South Africa, Pietersen, who had previously retired from one-day cricket earlier in the summer, was in County Championship action for Surrey where he struck 163 against Somerset at Taunton. He declined the opportunity to say anything the day Strauss retired.

However, on Friday a magazine interview that had been done before the Test series was published in the Cricketer in which Pietersen took a swipe at the ECB over the IPL. "Test cricket is right up there, most definitely," he said, "but IPL and Twenty20 cricket is a matter of fact now. Every board has accepted it apart from the ECB, unfortunately. Some part of international cricket may have to give because the IPL is not going away."

If there is progress in the talks between Pietersen, Flower and the ECB the earliest he could return to the side would be the Test series against India which begins in mid-November. The squad for that tour is expected to be named in early October although central contracts are due to be handed out by the end of this month and possibly before the players leave for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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