Flower hopeful of KP solution
Beaten champions England will be back home from their failed ICC World Twenty20 campaign by the time they are any the wiser as to whether Kevin Pietersen may soon be a team-mate again.
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Coach Andy Flower was on Tuesday required both to assess England's early elimination and make public utterance for the first time in more than a month on Pietersen's contractual status.
He wisely deferred, in some measure, on the latter subject - on the grounds that an intended press conference "in the next 36 hours" is likely to provide a telling update.
There has been no official confirmation from the England and Wales Cricket Board yet, but it is thought the intention is that chairman Giles Clarke - and maybe Pietersen himself - will issue a statement and take questions in the above time frame.
The South Africa-born batsman was unavailable for England's defence of their World Twenty20 crown - because of his well-chronicled contract wrangles and the breakdown of his working relationship with Flower and former Test captain Andrew Strauss.
It is understood, however, peace may have broken out - and Pietersen assured one follower on Twitter today that he will be "back soon".
If he does belatedly agree a central contract, he ought to return to the fold for at least some part of England's winter in India and then New Zealand.
Flower was in no position this morning to pre-empt Clarke's set-piece, but did say: "The situation is ongoing. I think it's nearing an end now - in a positive way, I hope."
Pietersen infamously enraged his employers, and left Strauss feeling "let down", when it emerged he had sent "provocative" text messages to the South African opposition during the Headingley Test.
He was subsequently dropped from the final Test of the summer at Lord's, and had in any case been left out of England's Twenty20 and one-day plans following his retirement in May from all international limited-overs cricket.
Pietersen revised that position, but not in time for consideration to play in Sri Lanka. He has instead been employed here for the past two weeks as a broadcast pundit.
Any notion that Pietersen could yet be added to the Test squad, already announced to tour India from the end of this month, appears premature. Flower said: "There's been a lot of formal communication between the ECB and Kevin - and there will be a press conference, I would imagine in the next 36 hours, which will enlighten you a little further.
"Let's just get over that first hurdle."
"We don't close doors to anyone.
"If we get over that first stage and get some of the formal legal proceedings out of the way, then we'll get on to the cricket."
Flower would hardly be human if the Pietersen saga had not taken some toll over the past two months, but he insists he is not buckling under the strain.
"I've kept in constant communication with the people I needed to.
"It was quite nice that the board have taken some of that responsibility off my shoulders while we've been trying to concentrate on the cricket here.
"The board have been very supportive, and I appreciate their wise counsel and years of experience.
"You always have issues coming up when you're England coach.
"There's always something interesting just round the corner - that's part of the job, and you get on with it."
Flower does not try to pretend Pietersen's skills were not missed in a faltering campaign which ended for England with Super Eight defeat against Sri Lanka at Pallekele last night.
"Of course," he said.
"But he wasn't available for this tournament when we selected the side.
"The fact of the matter is we didn't play well enough.
"Last night was a quarter-final, effectively, and we weren't good enough to beat Sri Lanka on their home soil.
"There were little sparks of positive play, but they were more streetwise than us and obviously deserved to win.
"It's sad we're leaving this early, but that is a fact of life."
Flower traces England's troubles to their record defeat against India nine days ago - a 90-run trouncing which did not halt progress there and then, but sowed doubts.
"I think the loss against India knocked the confidence a little.
"But we made the second round, and then won only one of those three matches - so we didn't deserve to get through.
"There was no momentum.
"These young players will have got a great deal out of it. But as everyone knows, world tournaments aren't for the learning curve; they're to be won - and we haven't done that."
The batting of Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan and Samit Patel all caught Flower's eye but in the end, collectively, England came up short. "These guys have got great futures ahead of them," he said.
"But we weren't good enough here.
"We've learned a lot about everyone in our group.
"When you are tested, in competition, being asked questions under pressure, you learn a lot about people.
"In a lot of little ways, this will be a memorable trip."