Flower: KP not an outcast
Sydney - England coach Andy Flower on Monday denied that gifted batsman Kevin Pietersen's drop in form was caused by being treated as an "outcast".
Flower was reacting to comments from Australian bowling legend and media personality Shane Warne, who said England had dished out "ordinary" treatment to the "walking ego".
"He (Pietersen) is anything but an outcast," Flower told reporters ahead of this week's first Test in Brisbane, starting on Thursday.
"He's a good guy to have around in the dressing room, a great player to have on your side, a very dangerous player that the opposition worry about.
"We expect great things from him and we expect him to take part in team dynamics like everyone else and that's what he does."
Pietersen boasts an imposing record against Australia, averaging 50.72 in Ashes Tests, ahead of his 47.80 career record, and his average of 54.44 in Australia is even more impressive.
However, he has struggled with the bat over the past 12 months, averaging just 36.61 and failing to post a Test century, prompting a rejuvenating trip to his childhood home of South Africa.
"KP (Pietersen's) lean trot has a lot to do with the way he has been treated by England," Warne told Sydney's Daily Telegraph, calling him the "walking ego".
"He was forced out as captain (in January 2009) and sacked from the one-day side earlier this year. The way they treated him was ordinary and he has been made to feel as if he is a bit of an outcast."
Flower admitted Pietersen likes to bat "while everyone's watching", but said that was what made him a dangerous player.
"Kevin does like the big stage and that's one of the great things about him as a competitive athlete," Flower said.
"He enjoys the pressure situations. He enjoys the chance to bat brilliantly while everyone's watching. That's part of what makes up a very fine competitor."