Flower denies ultimatum reports
1:41am Wednesday 8th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Team director Andy Flower has denied reports that he has issued an ultimatum that would see his - or Kevin Pietersen's - England career ended.
Some newspapers claimed late on Tuesday night that Flower was ready to walk out on England if Pietersen was retained beyond this winter's disastrous Ashes tour of Australia.
Flower has described the reports of an ultimatum, in a statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board shortly after the allegations surfaced, as "totally inaccurate".
Following the 5-0 whitewash Flower publicly stated his desire to remain in his post and build a new era for the Test side. And he has insisted suggestions he is prepared to do that only without Pietersen - who has himself stated a desire to stay on and try to regain the the urn in 2015 - are unfounded.
"Following speculation in the media today I feel it necessary to reiterate much of what I said in my recent press conference," Flower said in the 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."
Flower has endured clashes with Pietersen during his time in charge of the England team before, most significantly in 2012.
Pietersen was left out of England teams following a summer that saw him abruptly retiring from limited overs cricket before sending 'provocative' text messages to opposition South Africa players about his own captain Andrew Strauss.
Pietersen was reinstated in time for the tour of India, reportedly with new skipper Alastair Cook the driving force, and he responded with some match-winning performances in a memorable series win.
Should another precarious situation with Flower come to a head, as so many are predicting, there will be uncanny echoes of Pietersen's previous disagreements with Peter Moores. After that each lost his respective position as captain and coach, launching Flower's largely successful tenure at the start of 2009 alongside Strauss and now Cook.
Potential flashpoints in the coming months will doubtless revolve around availability at the start of this year's domestic season, appropriate preparation for an ODI series in May and then Tests in June against Sri Lanka, and whether that is compromised by Pietersen's likely involvement in the Indian Premier League.
His signature will be highly prized at next month's IPL auction, and at 33 - with a dodgy knee - Pietersen may decide to put Twenty20 earning power and profile ahead of pleasing the ECB at every turn.
If, however, as it seems neither he nor Flower blinks first, Paul Downton - barely a week into his new job at present - will be the man with the responsibility and authority to settle any differences.
Pietersen later took to Twitter to express his own concern over the reports and to once again express his "strong desire" to prolong his England career.
He tweeted: "I am shocked and saddened by reports in the media today concerning my future with England...
"I wish to repeat my strong desire to continue playing for my country, and to help us regain the Ashes in 2015."