Flower backs Pietersen to find form
Andy Flower watched a number of players enhance their Test credentials in the drawn warm-up against Bangladesh A, but is still anticipating a major contribution from the man who conspicuously did not.
Kevin Pietersen again failed to produce the big score his team-mates have been predicting since arrival in Bangladesh, with a breezy 20 before being bowled on the sweep.
That took his total to 69 in seven innings on tour, a disappointing return for a player of his rare talent.
Flower saw the likes of James Tredwell, with eight wickets in the match, and Jonathan Trott, with an unbeaten century in the first innings, lay down firm markers, but remains convinced of Pietersen’s ability despite his failure to follow suit.
“I think he is frustrated at the moment,” Flower conceded. “It’s a pity he didn’t spend some more time in the middle because I thought he looked quite good for his 20. It was a positive 20, an attacking 20, and that is the way he likes to play.
“I thought he showed some good signs. He’s a world-class player with a great record behind him and we still expect a lot from him in these Test matches.
“I don’t really agree with that cricketing phase ‘one knock away’ but I do think all the hard work he is putting in and the thought he is putting into his game will stand him in good stead in the future.”
Flower’s batting line-up for Friday may have resolved itself over the course of the match, with Trott looking assured enough to take on the opening mantle and Michael Carberry’s 40-run return perhaps not enough to earn a Test debut.
However, his bowling ranks have been disrupted by back injuries to Graham Onions and Stuart Broad.
Onions is a major doubt but Broad will have one final session to prove his fitness tomorrow.
“Broad has bowled two spells today, one of about six overs at lunch then another of about three overs at tea,” said Flower.
“He’s improved pretty quickly. Our medical staff and fitness trainer have got him up and running again and he is going to have a proper run out at practice, then we’ll see how he responds.”
Should Broad not be 100 per cent, Flower opened up the possibility of a whirlwind Test bow for Steven Finn.
The 20-year-old Middlesex quick only arrived in the country on Saturday as injury cover but caught the eye against Bangladesh A and may have leapfrogged the likes of Liam Plunkett and Ajmal Shahzad.
“It was quite interesting seeing four seamers operate in quite a competitive environment here,” said Flower. “I wouldn’t rule Finn out. He’s been added to the party and he’s a contender for selection.
“He did very well to get off the plane the afternoon before this game and then rock up and bowl the next day. He’s handled himself well for a young man and has been impressive.
“He’s bowled with pace on a slow pitch and bowled with accuracy; he’s quite a good prospect.”
Tredwell, meanwhile, has also done a fine job of proving his credentials to Flower.
“Tredwell had a good run out and got some wickets,” he said. “He’s got a bit of confidence now and, if we decided to play two spinners in the Test, he’s feeling good about himself.
“He’s pushed his claims and bowled very well. He’s a canny operator, a solid bloke, he can bat a bit too and he’s a great catcher at slip.
“All those things combined make him quite a strong contender for a place.”
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