No clear-cut finish to KP saga
Resolution is universally craved to the tiresome Kevin Pietersen saga, but it may yet arrive in piecemeal rather than one dramatic denouement.
On Tuesday, coach Andy Flower left the scene of England's failed defence of their ICC World Twenty20 title, with verbal confirmation of an intended press conference "in the next 36 hours" to update Pietersen's contract status.
No written schedule of such an event has been published by the England and Wales Cricket Board, however - and Flower hinted too that, even if chairman Giles Clarke does preside over a public statement, there may be plenty more hurdles to be crossed before Pietersen returns to the England fold.
The prodigal batsman has been on the outside looking in since his breakdown of relations with Flower and former Test captain Andrew Strauss in August, after his summer of contract wrangles.
Following well-chronicled intrigue over the content of texts he sent to opposition South Africa players during the Headingley Test, he was dropped for the series finale at Lord's.
Most recently, Pietersen - left off the list of names granted central annual contracts - officially became a free agent on Monday, when his existing 12-month deal ran out.
Absent for the World Twenty20, apart from in his capacity as a broadcast pundit, and left out of England's Test squad to tour India from the end of this month, the South Africa-born batsman has suggested more than once - via his Twitter account - that his troubles will soon be over.
Can it all happen then, in one public announcement from the chairman that Pietersen is once again in possession of a contract and will therefore return to active duty?
Perhaps not, according to Flower.
"It's not as simple as that," he said.
"But if we can get the formal stuff out of the way, we can move on to the day-to-day team stuff.
"You always want to draw lines under situations such as this."
There is a common will then, it seems, to resume cordial and working relations.
"Part of the job - part of why (ECB managing director) Hugh Morris employs me - is that you have to deal with whatever situations come your way," added Flower.
"That is part of the job, and you get on with it.
"I have been fully focused on my job as coach, and part of my job as coach was trying to get some resolution to that situation."
Flower found himself answering an inevitable barrage of questions about Pietersen, and the past two months of controversy, when he presented himself to the press for the first time since the end of that Lord's Test.
One inquiry even requested a direct character reference for Pietersen.
Flower was typically honest, yet diplomatic: "I think we all have good and bad in us, all of us."
He does not seek to dispute the fact England might obviously have fared better in Sri Lanka with Pietersen in the team, but advises against lazy conclusions on that score too.
"We definitely missed him ... it would have helped our batting side to have him," said Flower.
"But I think when you lose it's easy to look outside the group and say 'Well, those guys would have done better'.
"You don't know that for sure."
What Flower is certain of is that Stuart Broad's inexperienced England side did not quite play to their potential in Sri Lanka.
"We lost wickets early in pretty much every game," said the Zimbabwean.
"Your first three are vitally important, so that was an area we struggled.
"(Alex) Hales and (Luke) Wright occasionally showed some real skill, power and method - but generally our top three didn't perform as is needed in Twenty20 cricket if we were going to go through to the semis.
"I think we could have played better - there's no doubt about that.
"But we didn't, and that's why we're on the way home.
"In these conditions, it was always going to be tough. But it wasn't undoable; it was definitely doable, if we had performed."
England's early exit means they will have a longer-than-hoped, but still short, break before heading east again at the end of the month for their next sub-Continental challenge - four Tests in India.
Meanwhile, Jonny Bairstow will miss Yorkshire's Champions League campaign while he seeks specialist advice on torn cartilage in his right wrist.
It is hoped he will not require surgery, and the injury will not interfere with his winter touring plans.
Yorkshire will also be without Bairstow's England team-mate Tim Bresnan, who has been prescribed a rest period before the start of the four-Test tour to India.
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