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Cricket: Pietersen says Indian Premier League not to blame for India Test form


England former captain Kevin Pietersen. Photo - Wikimedia/Creative Commons

London: Kevin Pietersen has said it is wrong to blame the Twenty20 Indian Premier League for the tourists poor Test form in England.

In the absence of exiled former captain Pietersen, England came from behind to beat India 3-1 in a five-Test series, with skipper Alastair Cook overseeing the recovery.

That led many pundits to take what IPL star Pietersen said were "lazy potshots" at the lucrative Twenty20 event, which some have blamed for turning the heads of young Indian players in particular.

"It is a cheap shot to blame the IPL and portray the young Indian player as being uncaring about Test cricket," Pietersen wrote in his Daily Telegraph column on Monday.   

"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."

Pietersen said it was the reluctance of Indian officials to let their players appear in domestic overseas tournaments, not the IPL, that was harming the team's Test chances, although batsman Cheteshwar Pujara recently agreed to join Derbyshire for the final few weeks of the English county season.

"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."

Meanwhile Pietersen questioned England's approach to the one-day game in the lead-up to a home series with India, the reigning world champions, saying there was "much work to be done if England are to 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."

Pietersen welcomed the addition of dynamic Nottinghamshire opener Alex Hales to the one-day squad but said in-form Surrey team-mate, another powerful hitter, should have been included as well.

"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.

"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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