Andy Flower, the former Zimbabwe batsman and England coach, believes he could have built a better relationship with Kevin Pietersen.
The duo didn’t see eye to eye during their time with the England cricket team, even though it was one of the most successful periods in the side’s history. In 2010/11, England achieved a rare Test series win in Australia, with Pietersen’s 227 at Adelaide helping England claim a 1-0 lead, and he was the leading run-scorer as England whitewashed India, then the No.1 Test side in the world, 4-0 at home to take the top spot themselves.
However, during the 2012 summer, he was left out of the side for England’s final Test against South Africa following the ‘Textgate’ scandal, and though Pietersen was recalled to the side and topped England’s run charts during their 5-0 drubbing in the 2013/14 Ashes, his behaviour was criticised, and he was sacked by the ECB five days after Flower resigned as the coach following the conclusion of that series.
Speaking on the Following On Cricket Podcast, Flower admitted there were “certain things” he could have done better. “I think looking back at my previous experience, I know that I could have done certain things better,” he said. “I was going to say I’m sure Kevin might think the same with regards to himself and hindering things but actually I’m not sure about that. But I know that I could have, with a little bit of wisdom and effort, built a better relationship with Kevin.”
If he had the knowledge he now does, Flower said he would have taken a leaf out of the former Chicago Bulls’ coach Phil Jackson’s book and learnt from his treatment of Dennis Rodman, as was highlighted in Netflix’s The Last Dance documentary.
“I was watching the Netflix documentary, The Last Dance, with Michael Jordan and the head coach Phil Jackson,” Flower said. “I thought the third episode was really interesting from a coaching perspective. When Dennis Rodman joined the Chicago Bulls and the way Phil Jackson embraced his difference, I thought that was really wise and gentle, really lovely scene in which he sort of celebrated Dennis Rodman’s points of difference and made Rodman feel that he belonged and feel that his differences were valued.”