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Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has provided a scathing review of opener Keaton Jenning’s performance in the recent five-Test series against India, saying the 26-year-old “can’t bat”.
Jennings was given an opportunity to cement his place atop the order, but failed to do so as he mustered 163 runs at a dismal average of 18.11.
Given his failure to have an impact, coupled with Alastair Cook’s retirement from international cricket, England now find themselves in a serious conundrum as they will definitely have to find one, if not two, new openers ahead of their Test series in Sri Lanka in November.
Pietersen feels that uncapped Surrey opener Rory Burns has to be given a chance to prove himself at the international level as he is in the midst of a sensational county season, where he has played an instrumental role in leading Surrey to their first title in 16 years.
The 28-year-old, who also captains Surrey, has piled on the runs throughout the season, and is currently the highest run-scorer with 1,241 runs in 12 matches, which includes four centuries and six fifties, at an average of 68.94.
“It is brilliant that Rory Burns is predicted to go on the tour of Sri Lanka. That is going to be wonderful,” Pietersen told talkSPORT. “Jennings can’t bat, I’m sorry. They are going to have to find somebody else.
“Cook is a big loss. I know he has been wishy-washy over the last couple of months but he finished on a fairy tale ending, which is brilliant for him but to replace that kind of guy at the top of the order, it is going to be difficult.
“I just don’t see county cricket producing Test cricketers at the moment. The issue is deep-rooted. All the best players in the world now are not playing county cricket. They are earning their cash in franchise cricket. Therefore, the standard of county cricket isn’t great, the standard of county batsmen is poor, and it is causing a massive issue in cabs on the rank for batting places.”
There has been talk of James Vince returning to the squad and being given yet another chance to prove his worth, but Pietersen is against the idea of bringing the 27-year-old back.
Instead, he wants to see some aggression and firepower injected into one of the opening spots in the Test side, and feels the best man for the job is Jason Roy.
Roy, a regular face in England’s limited overs squads, has yet to make his Test debut. However, the only thing that could go against him is the fact that he hasn’t featured in any County Championship games this season.
Despite this, Pietersen still wants to see how he fares in the longest format.
“I’m not a massive fan of Vince, if I’m honest,” he said. “He had his chances. I watched him play Down Under last year. He played nicely, but I just didn’t like the way he went about his business on a couple of occasions when the ball started to bounce. For the tour of South Africa next year, the ball will bounce.
“I like Jason Roy. He has got oomph, he has got guts, he has got runs at the top of the order in Australia. He scored that brilliant 180 at the MCG. It is about how guys score their runs and what their personalities are like. I would be all for Roy at the top of the order with Rory Burns.”
Meanwhile, Pietersen also feels that all-rounder Moeen Ali should return to batting down the order rather than at No. 3.
England allowed him to bat at the position in the second innings of the fourth Test in Southampton and in both innings of the fifth Test at The Oval. However, he was unable to make the most of the opportunity of batting up the order as he made scores of 9, 50 and 20.
“I don’t think Moeen Ali is a number three. He wasn’t playing his natural game [against India], he is more free-flowing down the order,” Pietersen said.