Kevin Pietersen has “no idea at all” how to solve England’s Test selection conundrum as he looks ahead to the 2017/18 Ashes.
Asked what Joe Root’s XI should be for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, KP said: “Don’t know. Don’t know. No idea. No idea at all.”
But with Pietersen, opinions are never far away. He did offer a view on the batting line-up, seeing Essex’s Tom Westley as good to watch but potentially vulnerable in Australia. “I liked what I saw from Westley, Westley I thought played OK but obviously outside off stump and pushing at the ball, on those Australian wickets with the extra bounce, he might come unstuck. If you’re nicking off in England like that you might come unstuck. Hazlewood, Starc, with those boys…
“Root’s obviously a standout. But then I’d bat Stokes, Bairstow and Ali 5, 6, 7. Absolutely bat those guys there.”
Unsurprisingly it’s their aggressive approach that Pietersen enjoys.
“I like people who give it a tap, I hate watching anyone who blocks it.”
He had withering words for those who’ve sought to make the second opener’s spot their own.
“I don’t know who would open with Cook. They’ve tried but they’re not good enough. They’ve tried a lot because none of them are good enough. They don’t have what it takes. They’ve got to keep trying guys until they find someone who does.”
Pietersen played in three Ashes series down under, twice losing 5-0 either side of the historic series-win in 2010/11. And although he will be in South Africa during the forthcoming tour (playing in the new T20 Global League) he had some words of wisdom for those picked for the first Test in Brisbane.
“It’s really loud, the noise is immense. You’re the pantomime villain everywhere you go, the press, the crowds, you cop a lot.
“But the players have got to make sure they don’t make big things out of nothing. They’ve got to realise and understand that it’s a game of cricket. They’re going to be playing cricket at five Test grounds. People have played there before: people have won there before, people have lost there before, so they just need to understand that if they win then the sun will still shine the next morning, they’ll cop an absolute barrage if they lose… who cares? They’ll leave Australia on the 10th of January… it is what it is, they’ll continue with their lives. I’ve won there, I’ve lost there, it doesn’t change you as a person.
“But careers are defined by how you play in Ashes series so you’ve got to try and make it count.”
Pietersen confirmed that while he won’t be watching live he will be keeping up to date with the series and supporting England.
“Of course I’ll be wanting England to win. I’ll be keeping an eye on it. But will I be getting up in the night? No, I won’t. I’ll catch up in the morning with the highlights.”
Pietersen was speaking at the Romida cricket retail shop in Leatherhead where he was promoting the Spartan KP Rhino range of bats. Sales of the equipment, which bears his initials and a rhino design, help support the protection of rhinos in Africa under threat of poaching and hunting.