Thought KP would play with painkillers: Flower
The pace at which Kevin Pietersen's hernia problem deteriorated took England coach Andy Flower by surprise as he, at first, thought that the star batsman would continue in the World Cup by taking painkillers.
Pietersen was Monday ruled out of the World Cup and flew back to England to undergo the hernia surgery which has also made him unavailable for the Indian Premier League next month.
"The timing is not ideal because we are in the middle of the World Cup. We had very clear medical advice that this hernia problem Kevin's got wouldn't get significantly worse and he was at no risk of damaging himself further.
"He wasn't going to tear anything so we hoped he would get through the tournament OK, take painkillers when needed and bite the bullet," he added.
Pietersen was initially supposed to undergo the operation after England's World Cup campaign but he complained of worsening pain after the narrow six-run win over South Africa in Chennai.
"Kevin says it has got worse, pain-wise, and he can't carry on playing like this. So it was a pretty simple decision to replace him.
"He's had this problem for weeks. We have been managing it for a number of weeks. The very clear medical advice was that he wasn't going to tear it or damage it permanently by playing on. After playing against South Africa, his feeling was it was too sore to play international cricket," Flower said.
On whether Pietersen could have played with the pain, Flower said the decision ultimately rests with the player.
"I empathise with anyone with a serious injury. You never know exactly what they're feeling, so you've got to listen to what they're saying. Of course we're disappointed to lose him. He's a world-class player," he said.
Flower, however, rejected speculation that Pietersen was considering one-day retirement.
"Kevin's told me he wants to carry on playing one-day international cricket and I'll take him at his word," said Flower.
Pietersen has been replaced by Eoin Morgan in the squad and Flower said the batsman would head to the nets straightaway after landing in the sub-continent.
"We'll get him straight into the nets. He's a very skillful player and a pretty no-nonsense guy. I can envisage him playing straight away. He's 100 per cent fit," he said.
Image: Andy Flower chats with Kevin Pietersen
Photographs: Getty Images
Smith backs players after shock loss to England
Whatever pretensions South Africa had of having overcome their tendency to crack under pressure in big tournaments lay shattered after their demoralising six-run defeat by England in Sunday's thriller.
The team did not put a foot wrong against West Indies and the Netherlands but suddenly came unstuck chasing a modest 172-run target. Their brittle middle and lower order batting was exposed in the process and the result threw open Group B.
After that loss, Smith was invariably posed the question he is now tired of answering -- whether his team choked yet again.
"I would not say so, we have handled ourselves well in a number of situations over the last couple of years to be able to say we can cope with pressure," he said.
The match, however, suggested otherwise.
The team seemed to have inherited the big stage fright that led to their World Cup semi-final heart-breaks in 1992, 1999 and 2007.
Seeking a third successive win in the tournament, South Africa's batting frailties were laid bare by England's inspired bowling attack on Sunday.
The pattern so far suggests South Africa's total depends on the start provided by Hashim Amla up front and then AB de Villiers at number four.
The team owe their victories against West Indies and the Netherlands to de Villiers' back-to-back centuries. The right-handed batsman, battling a back problem, could not make much of an impact on Sunday and that effectively led to South Africa's downfall.
In fact, de Villiers' rich form glossed over some of South Africa's batting vulnerability which the English attack so cruelly exposed.
As his scores of two, four and 15 in the three matches so far would suggest, Jacques Kallis has been woefully out of form since joining the squad after an injury layoff.
Also the comprehensive victories in the first two matches meant their lower middle order was not really tested.
So when the chips were down on Sunday, JP Duminy or Morne van Wyk could not guide them home.
"I think this is the first (outing) they had after a long time. But I think we need to show a little more faith in the guys, it's just one game," Smith assured.
Image: Graeme Smith (left) with coach Corrie van Zyl
Photographs: Getty Images
Pak opener Shehzad gets into scuffle with scribe
Pak opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad, who is struggling for form in the ongoing cricket World Cup, had an altercation with a Pakistani journalist at Pallekele where the side take on New Zealand on Tuesay, it was reported on Monday.
According to a report in the Express daily, Shehzad exchanged words with the Pakistani journalist during the national team's practice session on Sunday.
"Shehzad, struggling for form, complained to the journalist that they were not fair with him and was not in a very good mood," the report said.
The opener has managed a total of just 26 runs in three matches in the World Cup, two of them against minnows Kenya and Canada and his opening partnership with Muhammad Hafeez has also not come good with no sizeable stand as yet. The failure of the two openers has led to captain Shahid Afridi and coach Waqar Younis expressing disappointment and calling on them to stand up and be counted in the remaining matches.
The report said that Shehzad approached the journalist after a long batting session in the nets and told him that when he scored runs in New Zealand no one wrote in favour of him but when he had failed in just three games in the World Cup the media was out for his blood and it was being unfair.
"The journalist reminded Shehzad that when he was scoring runs it was the media that highlighted his performances and encouraged him and that it was the job of the media to be critical if a player was not performing well," the report said. The report said that later the other Pakistani journalists also reminded Shehzad of his responsibilities and wished him well.
Image: Ahmed Shehzad
Photographs: Getty Images
Stoning team bus unacceptable behaviour: Hasina
Critical of the Bangladeshi fans who stoned the West Indies cricket team's bus after it beat the hosts in a World Cup match, country's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said such behaviour was unacceptable.
Angry Bangladeshi fans had stoned the Caribbean team's bus and home side skipper Shakib Al Hasan's home after the humiliating loss by nine wickets. Hasina said such behaviour was "undesirable" and could adversely impact Bangladesh's chances of hosting international sporting events.
During a political rally in Dhaka, Hasina said it was "not acceptable that you will garland the players if they win and pelt them with stones if they lose".
Bangladesh were bowled out for 58 in the match which was their lowest one-day total. The stoning incident after the game was earlier condemned by the ICC as well and led to an increase in security. Bangladesh is co-hosting the World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka.
Image: Sulieman Benn celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh's Rubel Hossain