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Kevin Pietersen expected to apologise for behaviour

Wednesday, 3 October 2012 - 2:05pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Pietersen, is expected to attend a press conference held by Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, today.

Kevin Pietersen is expected to become an England contracted player again today, but it will only be the start of a process that promises a fragile peace at best.

"There will be a press conference on the topic," said Andy Flower yesterday after England had been knocked out of the World Twenty20 following defeat by Sri Lanka in Pallekele. "Then at least the formal, legal side of things that has been ongoing for weeks will be behind us, and we can move forward."

Pietersen, who has been commentating on the World Twenty20 for ESPN, is expected to attend a press conference held by Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, today.

He even tweeted "Back soon" yesterday afternoon, though that might have been referring to the Champions League which starts next week in South Africa, where he will play for the Delhi Daredevils.

With Clarke by his side, Pietersen is expected to make a public apology for his recent behaviour, which included sending provocative texts about Andrew Strauss, the then England captain, to South Africa's players.

The idea of this double act is to show a unity of sorts that will end the speculation and start a journey that will have people once again talking about Pietersen's batting rather than his behaviour.

Saying sorry will only be the start of his rehabilitation within the England dressing room though. It will be a three-step process that will require the board first to be comfortable that he can be made available for selection, then for the selectors to consider him and finally for Flower, the team director, to add his endorsement.

Those who think Pietersen will be on the tour to India in four weeks' time, for which the 16-man squad has already been picked without him, obviously have faith in the speed of those processes.

"You always want to draw lines under situations such as this, but it's not as simple as that," said Flower. "But if we can get the formal stuff out of the way we can move on to the day-to-day team stuff."

The England Cricket Board plans to bring in an outside party to aid his reintegration, presumably to instil some neutrality in what had become a very entrenched issue. Part of the reason for it taking so long is that emotions have been running high.

That has calmed over the past fortnight, which has allowed Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, to broker a peace, albeit one that risks further disturbing the team dynamic.

"I always think that it's dangerous to try and recapture what you've had in the past," said Flower with his diplomat's hat on. "Things are always in a state of flux and you move on and you learn from what experiences you've had and you evolve. We try to move on and be stronger and better and wiser than before."

There is little doubt that Flower, the ECB, and many within the side see Pietersen as the villain. Team unity is an elusive thing at best and they clearly feel Pietersen's behaviour over much of the past season has disturbed its delicate equilibrium. "It hasn't been a great couple of months in that regard," said Flower.

"But Hugh Morris is a good man and the board has been very supportive and clear in their thinking and I appreciate their experience and their wisdom."

Asked if he felt Pietersen was a good man there was a telling pause before Flower said, "I think we all have good and bad in us, all of us."

There is no doubt England missed Pietersen's batting skills in the World Twenty20, a point admitted by Flower. The saga surrounding his absence could also have provided unwanted distraction to the team, especially with Pietersen nearby in a TV studio, though Flower denied it was a factor.

England's biggest failures in Sri Lanka lay with their batting. Asked if his batsmen might benefit from playing in the Indian Premier League or Big Bash, Flower said, "Playing with other players from other countries who bring different perspectives on the game and technique, would definitely help them learn to be better cricketers. But the problem is the fixture list. There aren't the gaps."

And that is what lies at the heart of Pietersen's problem with England, a friction caused by a man who wants all the benefits of playing lucrative tournaments even when they clash with playing for his country.


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