England's team director, however, did suggest that any contract that Pietersen may have agreed would be only the first steps back into the fold.
"It will be a relief," Flower said in Kandy on Tuesday, the day after England went out of the World T20 tournament, having promised a press conference within 36 hours at which Giles Clarke, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, is expected to confirm Pietersen's return. "If we can get the formal, sort of legal side of things that has been ongoing for weeks behind us we can move forward with the day-to-day team stuff."
Flower also admitted England's campaign would have had a greater chance of success if Pietersen had been playing in Sri Lanka. "We definitely missed him, there's no doubt about that," said Flower before his England side began their trek back home after defeat by Sri Lanka in Pallekele on Monday night. "It would have helped our batting side to have him."
While England's top three indeed struggled to score runs, this was no acknowledgement from Flower that Pietersen should somehow have been in the original squad. In his eyes that was never an option.
The Pietersen affair, which is anticipated to be heading to some sort of conclusion in Colombo with the unlikely prospect of Clarke and Pietersen sharing a platform, has been an additional strain on the party, especially those in charge.
Flower endorsed the attitude of his young squad in Sri Lanka. "Our guys have been very good at concentrating on what we do. I think the group have been excellent." But in admitting that any agreement would be a relief, he also hinted at the pressure that the whole affair had caused the management.
With a resolution of sorts seemingly around the corner, Flower did not openly admit that this saga had affected him. He did not have to. "I have been fully focused on my job as coach," he said. "Part of the job, part of why Hugh Morris employs me is that you have to deal with whatever situations come your way so you can't do anything about it. It has been an unprecedented situation and it hasn't been a great couple of months. Hugh Morris is a good man and the board has been very supportive and clear in their thinking and I appreciate their support and their experience and their wisdom."
Asked directly about how he saw Pietersen, he replied enigmatically: "We all have good and bad in us." Flower was not pining for the good old days – if they ever existed. "I always think it is dangerous to try to recapture what you had in the past. You move on and evolve."
It remains a matter of conjecture, not all of it optimistic, whether Pietersen can be succesfully reintegrated into the England team. It is also tricky to establish when this might happen. In the meantime, Pietersen – once his TV commitments here in Sri Lanka have been completed with the World T20 final – flies to South Africa on Monday to play for Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League.
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image: © JJ Hall