‘It is a cheap shot to blame the IPL’ for India’s poor performance, says Kevin Pietersen

"Send players away to spend time in county cricket or the southern hemisphere"

“Send players away to spend time in county cricket or the southern hemisphere”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has announced that “it is a cheap shot to blame the IPL” for India’s horrendous performance against England in the recently concluded five-Test series.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead after the second Test at Lord’s, India were left battered and bruised at the end of the series since they were humiliated in the last three Tests. In fact, in the fifth Test at The Oval, India were thrashed by an innings and 244 runs, which is now their third-largest defeat in Test history.

Following the Test series, many pundits and former players blamed the star-studded IPL for India’s loss. They stated that the tournament had ruined India’s shot selection and ability to compose an innings over the long period of time.

However, Pietersen seems to be the only player defending the IPL. In his column for The Daily Telegraph, he wrote: “It is a cheap shot to blame the IPL and portray the young Indian player as being uncaring about Test cricket. I know Virat Kohli will be hurting and I know how happy Murali Vijay was to score a century at Trent Bridge and almost get another one at Lord’s. It was dream come true for all of them to play a Test at Lord’s. It hurts these guys every single time they do not score Test runs.”

Instead, Pietersen blamed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for not allowing the Indian players to participate in domestic competitions around the world. By allowing them to play in overseas tournaments, the Indian players will start to get accustomed to conditions other than the flat, spin-friendly pitches that await them on home soil.

However, India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has taken action instead of brooding over what went wrong in the Test series. Pujara recently signed with Derbyshire for the rest of the County season, and even pace bowler Varun Aaron has expressed his interest in playing County cricket in England.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India has stopped its players appearing in Twenty20 competitions because it does not want to add broadcast value to tournaments that rival the IPL,” Pietersen said. “Fine. But it has to loosen its stance on players appearing in first-class domestic competitions abroad if it wants to build a successful Test team. Send players away to spend time in county cricket or the southern hemisphere.

“This does not apply just to batsmen. Indian bowlers need to learn the lengths they have to bowl in Australia, South Africa or England. The opportunities are there for every player. We would welcome them in England, they just need to be encouraged to look beyond their home country.”

Pietersen also questioned England’s decision of picking Test specialists to play at the top the order in their ongoing ODI series against India. The South African-born batsman added that if England continue to employ this mindset, they will not be “serious contenders to win the World Cup in Australia next year”.

“England’s strategy of picking orthodox, Test-style batsmen at the top of the order and relying on the power-hitters lower down to build a big score is not working,” he said. “England are still playing one-day cricket with Test selection in mind and are not choosing players who produce the brand of cricket that is going to win a World Cup.”

However, the 34-year-old lauded the national team’s decision to include Twenty20 superstar Alex Hales in the side. But, Pietersen also wants to see his Surrey team-mate, Jason Roy, drafted into the team since he has been in incredible form as of late.

“It is great Alex Hales has been added to the squad but I hope he does not put too much pressure on himself, or feel forced by those around him, to hit out from ball one,” he said. “England could do with one more player like him in the top four who hits the ball and I would love to see Jason Roy in the team.

“He has had a fantastic summer. He has shots all around the wicket and is a lot more consistent now.”

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