Flower, Pietersen pour scorn on talk of England ‘rift’

(Reuters) – England coach Andy Flower and senior batsman Kevin Pietersen moved quickly yesterday to dampen media speculation of a rift in the dressing room in the wake of the 5-0 Ashes humiliation in Australia.

 Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen

Following the whitewash, Zimbabwean Flower had declined to confirm whether Pietersen, England’s fourth highest test scorer of all time and runs leader in the recently completed series, will be part of a “new era” that he wanted to oversee.

British media reports on Wednesday said the coach had told the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that he would quit if the flamboyant Pietersen continued to be a part of the team during the rebuilding process.

“Following speculation in the media today, I feel it necessary to reiterate much of what I said in my recent press conference,” the 45-year-old Flower said in an ECB statement.

“It would be sensible and responsible to review the tour in a calm and logical manner before assessing our options for the future and planning ahead.

“I repeat that neither I nor the wider ECB leadership group have made any decisions as to the future involvement of any individuals in the playing group or in the support staff.

“The reports that I have issued an ultimatum of some description to the ECB are totally inaccurate.”

Pietersen was one of several players who came under fire for their performances on the ill-fated tour but the South Africa-born batsman has ruled out retirement and wants to help England regain the urn when they host the series in 2015.

The 33-year-old former captain also took to Twitter to react to the reports.

“I am shocked and saddened by reports in the media today concerning my future with England,” wrote Pietersen, who scored 294 runs at an average of 29.40 during the five tests.

“I wish to repeat my strong desire to continue playing for my country, and to help us regain the Ashes in 2015.”

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