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Flower demands England focus

NatWest International T20

Andy Flower

Andy Flower and his England players are keen to avoid getting drawn into "a world of 'what ifs'" as the Pakistan affair unfolds

England team director Andy Flower is urging his players to concentrate on on-field matters and not become distracted by the problems in the Pakistan camp.

Test captain Salman Butt and opening bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer will play no part in the limited-overs leg of the tour after being suspended by the International Cricket Council for breaching its Anti-Corruption Code.

The charges against Butt, Asif and Aamer relate to alleged irregular behaviour during the recently concluded fourth npower Test at Lord’s.

Flower claims it is important that his charges do not allow their focus to slip ahead of Sunday’s Twenty20 international, the first of two in three days at the SWALEC Stadium, and the subsequent NatWest Series.

“There has been a lot going on, some of it very unsavoury,” he said. "No-one wants that sort of news on the front or back page.

"But we have to focus on playing the game. We have a T20 game on Sunday which we are working towards and we want to keep it as simple as that.

"We don't want to live in a world of 'what ifs' and we are looking forward to the game on Sunday."

Flower did admit, however, that the allegations - and the publicity they have generated - have done little for the image of the game.

He told Sky Sports News: “We have to see the outcome of these investigations first but obviously it's not a very healthy position we seem to find ourselves in right now.

"But the game will survive. It's a great, great game. People love playing it and people love watching it and that's why it will survive."

Flower was pleased with the way his players conducted themselves towards the end of the fourth Test after the allegations of corruption had come to light.

Kevin Pietersen

Flower is hoping Kevin Pietersen, who was overlooked for international duty, will profit from his loan spell with Surrey

He added: "I think the guys did find it very difficult. Some of our cricket during the Test series was outstanding, especially from the bowlers.

"To be faced with those changing circumstances was a bit of a challenge to the guys, but I thought they held themselves very well. They didn't get caught in petty point-making and they made a point of handling themselves in a very dignified manner."

England go into the Twenty20 and one-day series without Kevin Pietersen, who has been dropped.

Flower admitted the move was designed to allow the new Surrey recruit to find his form in county cricket.

He said: "Selection matters are always very tricky because you are talking about people's careers and their lives.

"In this particular one, it was very simply for ODI purposes and was a performance decision.

"Kevin would acknowledge himself he has underperformed over the last 12-24 months.

"And on the Twenty20 side, we decided to leave him out because there is a four-day game starting for Surrey on the day the second T20 game takes place.

“With our priority being the Ashes, we thought it best he gets the opportunity of four days of good cricket at the Oval on a good pitch and time in the middle.

"That will be very important for him to get his confidence back and to find the rhythm of batting for long times again.”

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