Flower: 'We need to plan for next Test without Pietersen'

Enlgand search for back-up as team director admits ankle injury is likely to rule out batsman

England's intended path to Ashes glory will be strewn with medical bulletins. The team director, Andy Flower, conceded yesterday that both Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff are in a race against time for the next match against Australia in Birmingham starting a week tomorrow. It is a race Pietersen is likely to lose and Flintoff is utterly intent on winning.

Both men, the side's most celebrated players, will see specialists this week for examination of their chronic injuries, which will determine their futures in the series. Rumours of their demise have been, in both cases, exaggerated, but they are clearly struggling. At various points during the second Test at Lord's it was difficult to discern whose limp was the more pronounced.

But the waiting will lead to speculation, concern and attempts to second-guess doctors who can expect to be besieged with requests for prognoses. In cricketing terms, Flintoff's knee and Pietersen's heel are serious impediments to performance. It is probably only because of the commanding presence of both and the fact that it is the Ashes that such strenuous efforts are being made.

Flintoff, the last-day hero of the win at Lord's on Monday which put England 1-0 up with three matches to play, is feeling severe twinges from the right knee on which he had surgery only two months ago. Pietersen is suffering severe pain from an Achilles tendon and remains the more doubtful.

England will do their utmost to get both men on to the field for the match at Edgbaston but they also have to think of the two matches after that. They made it clear yesterday that they will not take a chance on either player if they are not fully fit for a five-day Test match. Flower said: "If guys are fit enough to get through and contribute to winning Test matches then they will be selected. If they're not, it's not a tough decision to make. They're just simply not fit enough to do it, so you don't select them."

Given the nature of the competition neither man will lightly give up his position. In Flintoff's case it is probably slightly easier for him to make the decision to continue, come what may, because he has already declared his intention to retire from Test cricket at the end of the series. After that his body can withdraw peacefully to the less demanding arena of short-form cricket.

On Monday morning at Lord's he merely embellished his legendary status with a resplendent exhibition of fast bowling. The adulation he received and his desire to put it over the Aussies one more time will provide stimuli that injections cannot.

The same goes for Pietersen, who thrives on batting. But it was obvious that there were stages in the match where he was having trouble running. While he insists that his batting is not affected he played a most bizarre innings last Saturday afternoon by his lofty standards. Perhaps the injury, which he felt first felt on England's tour of the West Indies in January, is beginning to prey on his mind, which in turn is affecting his approach to batting.

The injections record of both men will have some influence. Pietersen is allowed one more cortisone jab under medical guidelines during this series and Flintoff will simply do what it takes. Flower said the long-term effects of possibly giving too many injections would be looked at.

"When you're given the responsibility to make decisions you have to consider factors like that," he said. Although Flower obviously wants both men to play in Birmingham, where the establishment of a 2-0 lead would make England extremely difficult to catch in the series given the impetus they would have created, he quite rightly refused to make a prediction.

"They're both seeing specialists so I'd rather not make a prediction and let the medical guys make their decisions," Flower said. "Usually, it's a combination of both medical opinion and the player himself. The man involved knows his body best and can feel certain things but you have got to take medical advice. That's why we employ the best men around, to give us that advice.

"Kev is seeing a specialist later this week and they will assess his Achilles problem and we take it from there. Fred obviously had a tough physical game but, chatting to him after the match, he was very bullish about being ready for the third Test. But obviously with his injury record we have got to be a little bit careful about the wear and tear on his body. He can have a proper rest over the next week and he will also be reassessed."

Ian Bell will come in if Pietersen withdraws and Steve Harmison would probably replace Flintoff. The batting cupboard is much barer than the bowling stores, but Flower will spend the next three days hoping he has no need of using any emergency stocks.

Ashes profiles

Kevin Pietersen

Innings: 24

Runs: 1,116

Average: 50.72

100s: 2

50s: 7

Highest score: 158

Aussies' respect? Definitely, always a threat – Ponting knows Pietersen is their most prized wicket.

Ian Bell

Innings: 20

Runs: 502

Average: 25.10

100s: 0

50s: 6

Highest score: 87

Aussies' respect? Hardly, they've labelled him "The Shermanator" after a geeky film character.

News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Sport
Chelsea
football
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police