Flower backs Pietersen to overpower South Africa

England team director Andy Flower believes Kevin Pietersen is in the right frame of mind to overpower South Africa in the forthcoming Test series.

updated: October 31, 2009 16:00 IST
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England team director Andy Flower believes Kevin Pietersen is in the right frame of mind to overpower South Africa in the forthcoming Test series.

Pietersen will stay in England to complete his recovery from an Achilles injury when England fly to Bloemfontein on Saturday for the start of the tour.

But the Hampshire batsman will join his England team-mates on November 9 - in time for the first One-Day International.

After admitting he had fallen out of love with cricket prior to England's Ashes victory over Australia this year, Pietersen is rediscovering his passion for the sport.

He batted for the first time in three months on Friday in a training session at Lord's and Flower said: "He's still got a bit of rehab work to do to get up to speed.

"Hopefully he'll be ok to play in the warm-up game against South Africa A and then ready to go at the start of the one-day series.

"That is what we are targeting. The infection has slowed everything up otherwise he would have been back during the English summer.

"But he brings a superb record, flair, confidence and the ability to counter attack.

"The fact that we won the Ashes with limited contributions from the two big stars (Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff) is a good thing for the unit and the country's cricket and when they come back that adds strength and power. That's a good thing.

"Pietersen's been pushing himself running. He'll just love getting a bat in his hands again and hitting the ball. That's what he loves doing. He's chomping at the bit to get going.

"He is important to us. He's a world-class player who has a special talent and a special confidence. He is a huge boon for us."

Pietersen was given a hard time by spectators on his last visit to his native South Africa in an England shirt but Flower believes the 29-year-old has won over his critics.

"This time probably he will have the respect from the South African public," Flower said.

"They love sport and cricket and I expect they will treat him with respect."

However, Flower expects Jonathan Trott to receive a more hostile reception after being criticised by former England captain Michael Vaughan.

Vaughan claimed Trott, who made a century in his first Ashes-winning Test at the Oval this summer, was celebrating with South African players after they beat England at Edgbaston in 2008.

Flower said: "I saw Trotty on Wednesday and he knew stuff was coming out in the papers and he was comfortable about it. He said 'Look, I've got a clear conscience about it. I was caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time'. There was nothing malicious about it at all and I agree with him and believe him.

"But they (the South African fans) will have seen his performance at the Oval against Australia. I am sure he will get a bit of a hostile reception."

Flower, who was born in Cape Town and represented Zimbabwe, insisted he had no problem with Pietersen and Trott, born and bred in South Africa, facing their former countrymen.

He said: "The England teams historically have had people like Allan Lamb, Tony Greig and Graeme Hick. I don't see it being any different to that.

"From watching Trott in preparation for the Oval Test and in the Test itself he is 100 percent committed to this team and this country. I am quite happy with the situation.

"That's the way it is and has been for quite a long time. I am quite comfortable with the commitment shown by the guys."