ENGLAND-England coach Andy Flower has said he hopes Kevin Pietersen doesn’t live to regret his decision to retire from limited overs international cricket.
Pietersen wanted to continue playing Twenty20s – he was man of the tournament when England won the 2010 World Twenty20 and was keen to help them defend their title in Sri Lanka in September – while abandoning 50-over one-day internationals (ODIs).
But Flower said England were right to deny Pietersen his wish as otherwise “five or six players” might have done the same thing.
South Africa-born Pietersen scored over 4 000 runs in 127 one-dayers at an average of more than 41, with nine hundreds – including one in each of what turned out to be his final two appearances, against Pakistan in Dubai in February.
Flower was well aware of the gap Pietersen, who signed off with an ODI best 130 as England wrapped up a 4-0 series win over Pakistan, would leave at the top of the order.
“When Kevin told me he wanted to retire from one-day cricket I must have had three or four subsequent meetings with him where I tried to dissuade him from doing so,” Flower told BBC’s test Match Special.
“I think it’s really sad he won’t be playing all three forms of the game. He’s in incredible form – technically, he’s excellent.”
The 31-year-old Pietersen, who also plays in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament, said on Sunday a crowded international schedule meant something had to give if he was to continue to perform at his best.
“I can’t play at my peak – I can’t keep on playing every single game and enjoying every single game – when I have to play every single form of cricket, or when I have to train every single day.”
But Flower, once a world-class batsman for Zimbabwe, said England had plans in place to give Pietersen a break if needed.
“He can rest – it’s not as if KP can’t ever rest – we do rest him, and if you look back at various series that’s what we’ve done.
“He’s also had significant chunks out with injury; it’s not that he doesn’t get a chance to rest.”
As for Pietersen wanting to opt out of 50-over cricket, Flower said England cricketers knew the terms of their contracts.
“You can’t choose between one of the limited-overs formats – it’s there in black and white.
“Kevin is very clear that he doesn’t want to play one-day cricket any more, so that makes him unavailable for Twenty20 cricket,” said Flower.
“That’s an ECB policy. The reason for that policy is that 50-over cricket is an integral part of ECB strategy.
“England have never won a 50-over World Cup, and we are very hungry to do so.
“The board is also very concerned about setting the right precedent. If you set a precedent whereby players can pick and choose between the limited-over forms, they are worried about five or six players doing a similar thing.
“This would degrade limited-overs cricket. This policy is in place for a good reason, and Kevin and his representatives were aware of that.
“I hope that after he’s retired he doesn’t regret that, but that’s the decision that’s been taken.”
England’s first one-day series without Pietersen starts against the West Indies on Saturday, with Ian Bell now set to open alongside captain Alastair Cook.