Flintoff tells ECB and Pietersen to sort out their differences and move on


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The Independent Online

Everyone in cricket (and plenty outside it) has an opinion on how Kevin Pietersen and England should settle their differences. It was still a surprise, however, when Andrew Flintoff joined the fray yesterday to offer his advice.

Throughout a celebrated international career, Freddie was regularly before the beak for some misdemeanour or other, usually involving one over the eight. It is what helped to make him so loveable.

In some ways, perhaps, it makes him ideally qualified to comment on Pietersen, whose dispute has been created by much more profound issues, about precisely how much England's cricketers should play and when – plus, of course, his desire to make a fortune playing in the India Premier League.

Flintoff stopped just short of saying heads should be banged together, which is probably what it needs, with the team for the third Test against South Africa being announced on Sunday. To general astonishment, Pietersen indicated earlier this week that the match could be his last if he could not reach a satisfactory agreement with his employers.

Flintoff said on Sky Sports News: "They need to get in a room, sort it out and move on because I imagine Andy Flower and his team want it resolved. In the dressing room you've got a squad of 14 and the only thing you've got in common is that you all play cricket. That doesn't mean you're all going to get on. What's important is that you come together on the pitch."

South Africa, who have had much the better of the Investec Test series so far and, at 1-0 up with one to play, cannot lose the series, created potential unrest of their own yesterday. They omitted their long-time Test captain, Graeme Smith, from their squad of 15 for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Until last year, Smith was captain in every format and was still available as a player for all of them. Not so long ago, South Africa would not have imagined omitting such a muscular batsman but the emergence of the 24-year-old power-hitting opener Richard Levi, who scored the fastest T20 international century, has rendered him superfluous.

England Lions continued to enjoy the better of things against Australia A yesterday. Lancashire's left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan took 6 for 51 and then Yorkshire's promising opener Joe Root scored a half-century, a white-rose/red-rose combo for the future.