The 32-year-old’s hopes of a return rest on whether he can re-establish trust within the England set-up following his texting controversy, when skipper Andrew Strauss was reportedly mentioned in derogatory messages sent to South African players. It is a situation that has tested the resolve of Flower, who believes Pietersen’s attitude to the England set-up has been changed by the lure of the IPL, where Pietersen plays for the Delhi Daredevils.
Pietersen announced his retirement from limited-overs internationals this summer – despite his desire to appear in next month’s World Twenty20 title defence – in a move that would allow him more scope to play in the IPL.
He subsequently backtracked on playing a full IPL tournament next spring, where he re-affirmed his commitment to representing England in all three formats.
But Flower is certain Pietersen’s availability for the cash-rich tournament is at the heart of the current problems he admits are likely to linger with little hope of an IPL window being introduced to avoid clashes with England internationals. “I think the IPL and the international fixtures in England are an area of conflict. And it will continue to be an area of conflict in the future.”
Flower earlier this week made it clear he wanted Pietersen to hold “man-to-man” talks with skipper Strauss over the texting issue. That would, apparently, be the first step towards any resolution which will take place with the knowledge that the renewal of the England central contracts loom large on the horizon.
England’s players will sign off on new deals next month although Flower does not expect any resolution on the Pietersen matter to have been concluded before then. That would likely cast further doubt over the South Africa-born batsman’s future, although Flower was reluctant to be drawn on the consequences it might have on Pietersen’s contract negotiations.
“I wouldn’t like to put a time frame on it because that might be unrealistic,” he said. “To resolve certain issues of trust and mutual respect, it might take longer than that.”