SYDNEY - Coach Andy Flower on Wednesday dismissed reports that he issued an ultimatum to England cricket chiefs over misfiring star batsman Kevin Pietersen as "totally inaccurate". English media said Flower was ready to quit unless he was given guarantees that the polarising batsman would not be selected to play under him in the fallout following the 5-0 Ashes humiliation in Australia.
It follows rumours of a long-standing rift between South African-born Pietersen and Flower. Pietersen, 33, who finished as the tourists' top scorer in the series with 294 runs at 29.40, said he wants to stay and help England win back the Ashes next year on home soil. "I am shocked and saddened by reports in the media today concerning my future with England," he tweeted.
"I wish to repeat my strong desire to continue playing for my country, and to help us regain the Ashes in 2015." The former captain, who has been struggling with a long-term knee injury, has reiterated his desire to reach 10,000 Test runs -- he currently has 8,181. Flower said in a statement that no snap decisions would be made despite the humbling by England's oldest rivals.
"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," he said. "I repeat that neither I nor the wider ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) 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."
Paul Downton, the ECB's new managing director, will conduct an internal review of the Ashes whitewash when the futures of Flower, Pietersen and skipper Alastair Cook among others will be discussed. Reports said that Downton would speak to each player and member of the backroom staff and would take his time before making any decisions on the fate of leading figures within the management and team.
Flower has told the ECB he wants to rebuild the England side and the board has so far backed him publicly, but ultimately the decision to keep him or not will reportedly rest with Downton. Pietersen is not in the squad for the upcoming one-day international series, which starts in Melbourne on Sunday.