England coach Flower’s future in fresh doubt

Frank Dalleres
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DOUBTS over England cricket coach Andy Flower’s future resurfaced yesterday amid suggestions he could step down unless controversial batsman Kevin Pietersen announces his international retirement.

Flower has been unequivocal in his determination to continue in the role despite presiding over the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia, which culminated in a three-day defeat in Sydney on Sunday.

Pietersen has also emphasised his resolve to prolong his Test career, writing on Twitter on Monday night: “Very disappointed to lose 5-0 and not to score more runs. Tough tour against a top-class team. I’m determined to help regain the Ashes in 2015.”

But the 34-year-old has been tipped to be one of the scapegoats of a disastrous tour, despite finishing the series as England’s top scorer at an average of 29.4.

His relationship with England chiefs looked to have reached the point of no return in 2012 when he was dropped for sending text messages to South Africa players about his then-captain Andrew Strauss. Pietersen was restored to the side after apologising to Strauss and went on to play a key role in the historic Test series triumph in India later that year.

England’s new managing director Paul Downton holds the key to the futures of Flower and Pietersen and is set to conduct an internal review of the Ashes disaster.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have given their public backing to Flower and captain Alastair Cook, but Downton is expected to have the final say.

Pietersen’s desire to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League could trigger a decision on his England future next month. Committing to a new deal with Delhi Daredevils, or another side, could leave him short of domestic playing time before the two-Test series at home to Sri Lanka in June. The IPL auction is set to take place on 12 February.