Pietersen set for England talks

The Bolton News: Kevin Pietersen is reportedly due to meet Andy Flower on Saturday Kevin Pietersen is reportedly due to meet Andy Flower on Saturday

Kevin Pietersen was reportedly set to have an initial meeting with England coach Andy Flower as a first step to try to settle his differences with his employers.

Pietersen's future as an international cricketer remains in significant doubt, with time relatively short before his next annual England contract is due to be signed at the end of this month.

It is reported widely, including by the BBC, that he will speak face to face with Flower on Saturday although there is no confirmation of any meeting, or timetable for reconciliation, from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Pietersen is playing no part in the ongoing NatWest Series of one-day internationals against his native South Africa and will also be absent from England's imminent defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka.

The 32-year-old batsman was dropped from last month's Lord's Test, also against South Africa, over a breakdown of "mutual trust" with Flower and captain Andrew Strauss. Pietersen found himself at the centre of controversy over "provocative" text messages he sent to opposition players - reported to contain derogatory references to Strauss.

It was a sour culmination of his summer of contract wrangles with the ECB centring initially, it seemed, on Pietersen's wish to play a full Indian Premier League campaign next spring at a time when England have Test match commitments.

Pietersen has already publicly distanced himself from that stance, but Flower has made it clear there are many issues which must be confronted and settled before he can possibly return to the England fold.

The coach must plan in any case for a future without Strauss, who retired from professional cricket three days ago at the age of 35.

Flower accepts the aggravation Strauss has endured thanks to Pietersen this summer played no part in his decision to call time on his outstanding career. "I don't think Pietersen is the main factor in this at all," he said. "Strauss said that publicly and privately to me, and I believe him."

Flower and the ECB must now work out whether it will be possible to rehabilitate Pietersen under new Test and ODI captain Alastair Cook, if not in time to be selected for this autumn's taxing tour to India then for next year's back-to-back Ashes campaigns and a World Cup beyond that.

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