Flower wants KP to reveal details
Andy Flower wants Kevin Pietersen to come clean on the content of his controversial text messages if he is serious about saving his England career.
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The England coach was at pains to stress the texts, sent to South African players during this month's drawn Investec Test at Headingley, amount to just one of several issues currently preventing Pietersen returning to the fold.
But it is clear too that Flower, captain Andrew Strauss - reported to be the subject of derogatory references in the messages - and the England and Wales Cricket Board need to know the devil in the details, as a starting point to try to rebuild mutual trust and respect with the mercurial South Africa-born batsman.
Pietersen was unsurprisingly left out of both England's 15-man squad to defend their ICC World Twenty20 title, in Sri Lanka next month, and the 14 who will play South Africa in a series of limited-overs matches before then.
The continuation of the 32-year-old's international career will remain in serious doubt, following his disagreements with ECB, at least until the annual central player contracts are signed next month.
Flower believes the first step has to come in meetings between all concerned parties.
It is thought the first of those may take place between Pietersen and Strauss next weekend, once the Test captain returns from a short break after yesterday's 51-run defeat at Lord's - which confirmed South Africa take over from England at the top of the world rankings. But Flower said: "I think these things should remain private.
"I don't think they should be played out in the media - so leaking information, using PR agencies etc, to resolve this issue is not the correct way to go about it.
"I think face-to-face and man-to-man, where you can look people in the eye, is always the best way to resolve most issues."
Even then, Flower anticipates a long process before he and his colleagues are once again sufficiently convinced of Pietersen's goodwill.
"I understand some people would like this resolved overnight," he said.
"I don't think it is something that can be resolved overnight if we want to go about it properly.
"There are a number of outstanding issues to be resolved.
"An example of that would be finding out exactly what these text messages contained, if we do really want to move forward either way."
Flower acknowledges there may have been faults on both sides this summer, citing England's reaction to the spoof Twitter account which sent up Pietersen and so antagonised him as one cause for regret.
But he is adamant too that Pietersen is the one with by far the most reason to explain and apologise.
"I'm quite happy to take responsibility for a number of issues ... I don't think text messages from an England player to South African players, with some of the content I've heard that is in them, is my responsibility," he said.
"I think one issue that I could have handled better is when I heard that some of the players were occasionally looking at that Twitter account.
"I could have nipped that in the bud earlier.
"Let's just be perfectly clear on the severity of the situation. There is one thing a few players having a giggle at a Twitter account; there is another one, some of the issues that we have seen rear their heads over the last two weeks."
England's quest to discover the exact words in Pietersen's texts goes on, despite requests for information to be divulged by South Africa - and Flower is appealing to the man himself to do the right thing.
"I'm not sure of exactly the best way to investigate it," he said.
"I think it's always nice to have a large element of up-front honesty."
Strauss was unable yesterday, after the stresses and strains of his 100th Test, to restate how long he intends to continue as England captain.
Flower senses the Pietersen controversy has taken its toll, but is confident Strauss will be back to try to lead his team to the top of the world again.
"The issue is not specifically between the captain and Pietersen," he said.
"There are a number of unresolved issues, and it would be inaccurate to judge it as just between those two.
"I think he [Strauss] is a bit drained. It's been a hard series for him.
"Obviously he's been a superb leader for us. He would have wanted to score more runs, and that has a wearing effect.
"Then these peripheral issues have taken a lot of his energy, I think, and his enjoyment out of the last few weeks.
"I think he's done the right thing to get away for a few days with his family.
"He'll come back. He's a strong bloke and he'll come back feeling very strong. We will definitely be plotting our challenge.
"We want to get back to number one. We've got a tough outing first up in India, of course - but that'll be exciting."
Pietersen's presence there remains a long shot, with Flower reluctant to judge publicly whether he has played his last match for England.
"I would rather not speculate on that," he said.
"He was speculating on it during a Test series - so I suppose there is a chance.
"There are certain behaviours that are unacceptable, and I think we've seen some of that just recently.
"So to move forward we must get over those hurdles."