Pietersen’s pariah status was underlined yesterday when he was left out of the 15-man squad for next month’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, despite being England’s most explosive short-form batsman.
The Surrey player has been ostracised after sending text messages, thought to disparage Strauss, to friends in the South Africa team who on Monday knocked England off the top of the Test rankings.
Pietersen has apologised for the “provocative” correspondence and further talks are planned, but Flower insisted yesterday that Strauss was not the only party with whom bridges would need to be built.
“Let me be clear: this is not just an issue between the captain and Kevin. There are deeper issues, certainly of trust and mutual respect that need to be addressed,” said Flower.
“There are unresolved issues that have reared their heads in recent weeks, and they have to be resolved before there is any way forward. Andrew Strauss and I have worked very closely and very well together over the years, and we will continue to do so over this issue.
“It’s a very sad situation for everyone involved. He [Pietersen] played superbly at the last Twenty20 World Cup, but the circumstances that exist at the moment mean he can’t be selected for us. There are still unresolved issues, and we’ll be addressing those issues when we have time.”
Defeat to South Africa at Lord’s this week completed a 2-0 series loss and raised questions about Strauss’s position, but Flower backed him to resume the Test captaincy in the next series, a winter tour of India.
“He’s a superb leader,” he added. “He can certainly take this side on. He deserves a little break and he’s taking it now. He’ll come back feeling refreshed, I’m sure.”