Saker sees no problem with Pietersen

Andover Advertiser: England bowling coach David Saker admits his job could be on the line England bowling coach David Saker admits his job could be on the line

England bowling coach David Saker has branded reports questioning Kevin Pietersen's England future as "nowhere near the truth".

Saker described Pietersen as a "fantastic player" and saw no reason to think his relationship with team director Andy Flower had changed during the Ashes whitewash.

"Kevin has been the same as he has always been," Saker said.

"He's a fantastic player and has done some great things but we went through some tough times in the Test series and things come out of that and people want to make up stories and see things that might not be there.

"That's what happens. When you are losing, these things come out quite often.

"The relationship between Kevin Pietersen and Andy Flower hasn't changed from where I'm sitting and I'm sure what's being reported and what is out there is nowhere near the truth."

In the fall-out of losing the urn to Australia it had been reported that Flower was ready to begin a new era without the controversial 33-year-old right-hander.

Flower subsequently denied he had issued a 'him or me' ultimatum to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over Pietersen's future, after suggestions an uneasy working relationship had become untenable.

The story has rumbled on since with England not due to make any major decisions over the future of their under-performing Ashes players, including Pietersen, until after the team return from Australia early next week.

Alastair Cook's future as England captain is in some doubt after a winless tour against Australia prompted him to admit he would consider his position after the ODI series.

Saker believes the players, and management staff, are deservedly under pressure and knows his own job is potentially on the line.

The 47-year-old Australian only signed a new deal, which runs until the end of next year's Ashes, at the start of this tour last October.

"I would love to (see out his contract)," he said.

"With what has happened here there's no doubt there will be some reviews done and some people will probably be put under a lot of pressure. That's the nature of the business.

"We're here to win games of cricket and we haven't been good enough. It's a simple thing.

"People should be accountable for that, players and management. Things will change and we'll fight on, I hope I'll be a part of that."

Saker was unable to find a solution to Steven Finn's bowling action problems during two-and-a-half months on tour, which forced the Middlesex quick home prematurely last week.

Finn is regarded as one of the brightest fast-bowling prospects England possess, but he did not play a single competitive match on tour as he struggled with technical difficulties.

"We've been trying really hard over the whole time he was here through different things," Saker said.

"We were getting close at times and at other times we were going backwards.

"He's a fantastic kid and going forward he's going to be a big part of the future of English cricket."

Saker said there was no one problem that was left Finn "not selectable" in the eyes of limited-overs coach Ashley Giles.

"It's related to a lot of different things," he said.

"I'm sure we'll sort all that out in time. Getting away from the game could be a good thing for him for two or three weeks."

Boyd Rankin is another who has struggled to press his claims after a hamstring problem, that has also been attributed to cramp, first flared during his Test debut in Sydney.

The Irishman is set to miss Friday's fourth ODI in Perth, but Saker hopes he will shrug off the problem to be available for the series finale, in Adelaide, and three tour-ending Twenty20s.

"It's a slight hamstring problem. We're hoping he will be right for the last one-day game and beyond that," Saker said.

"I think it is something that could be (related to his cramp problems) without a doubt.

"It's been very hot out here and quite tough."

It has not all been doom and gloom, though, and England have unearthed some bright prospects for their 'new era' including all-rounder Ben Stokes and quick Chris Jordan.

Jordan has earned rave reviews already, with former Australia paceman Brett Lee tipping him for a long career, and Saker agrees.

"He's been excellent," Saker said.

"He's been a shining light to see someone do what he's done. He's still young and he's still learning the craft so he's only going to get better.

"He's a fantastic person to work with and he works hard on his skills. In the future he could play both forms of the game."

Jordan has played just four ODIs, but his enthusiasm to make his mark has come as a welcome boost at the end of a long tour.

"He's a very level-headed kid. He's really hungry to play cricket," Saker said.

"It's really refreshing to see someone who just wants to go out there and play cricket.

"He plays like he's playing cricket in the backyard as a kid. That's exciting and that's what young guys do for the group."

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