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Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen believes that Australia will be “licking their lips” if the pace duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad are unable to stay fit throughout the upcoming Ashes series later this year.
Pietersen’s comments come after Anderson and Broad were unable to feature in all five Tests against India late last year.
Anderson missed the first Test as he was still recovering from a shoulder injury and was also ruled out for the fifth and final Test due to “body soreness”. Broad, meanwhile, was sidelined for the third and fourth Test of that series as a result of a foot injury.
Fast forward to today and Anderson is once again out of action and could miss the first Test against South Africa on July 6 after being diagnosed with a tear in his right groin.
Should Anderson and Broad find themselves in a similar situation when they travel Down Under for the Ashes, Pietersen conceded that it will be advantage Australia.
“Speaking to some of the Aussie players I said ‘you might lick your lips at some of the bowling because Anderson and Broad can’t play five Test matches’. We saw that in India,” he told Sky Sports. “Broad and Anderson are fantastic bowlers, and if you can’t get them performing for five Test matches then [as the opposition] you want to lick your lips, because England don’t have a spinner either. It’s a big, big blow if Jimmy’s injured himself.”
Pietersen also pointed out that England will have to keep Australia opener David Warner under wraps throughout the Ashes as he is capable of inflicting serious damage in a short period of time.
To further illustrate this point, Warner achieved an incredible feat in the third Test against Pakistan in January as he became just the fifth player in history to score a century in the first session on the opening day of a Test match.
“If you don’t bowl well to Warner he kills you on the first morning of a Test match,” Pietersen said. “The most important thing for the next six months is finding someone to bowl well to Warner because if you can tie him down you can really do well in that series.”
Meanwhile, with the Champions Trophy fast approaching, Pietersen has backed England all-rounder Ben Stokes to shine at the tournament, especially after his successful stint with the Rising Pune Supergiants at the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In the 12 matches he played, Stokes scored 316 runs, which included a century and a fifty, at an average of 31.60. He also took 12 wickets at an average of 26.33.
“I saw Stokes say how much the IPL has helped him, and how a coach like Eric Simons has made him become a lot more consistent,” Pietersen added. “It’s a drum that I’ve been banging for a very long time. It’s so good to see progress has been made.
“Guys can go and enjoy themselves in the IPL and become better cricketers – that’s the most important part of this.”