England had a disastrous World Cup campaign where they managed to win only three out of nine games and finished seventh on the points table. Heading into the 2023 World Cup as defending champions, their campaign lurched from bad to worse, with their qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy in doubt until the latter stages.
England faced criticism before the World for their decision to leave out Harry Brook from the squad, with the team management under scrutiny throughout the competition.
In an exclusive interview with Wisden.com, Pietersen shared his thoughts on what went wrong for England at the World Cup. According to him, selection issues were at the heart of England’s dismal performance.
“I think selection was the issue at the start,” said Pietersen. “Not selecting Harry Brook [was a] poor decision. So I think there were some issues at the start.”
Brook was not picked in the preliminary squad with senior pro Jason Roy being preferred over him. However, Roy was left out of the final squad with Brook replacing him. In the World Cup, Brook played six games, but didn’t have much of an impact, averaging 28.16 with one fifty-plus score.
However, his struggles were exceeded by those of England captain Jos Buttler. From nine games, Buttler managed a mere 138 runs, averaging just 15, and never crossed fifty.
Buttler shuffled across the middle order, batting once at No.4, five times at No.5, and three times at No.6. Pietersen believes that it was a mistake. “The other selection issue was Jos Buttler, who is, I think, one of the greatest players of white-ball cricket in the modern-day game, batting at five or six,” Pietersen said. “I just don’t think that was right.
“So there were a couple of selection issues, but I think nobody would ever have expected what happened with England. No one. And I don’t know what actually happened, apart from the fact that looking from the outside, just didn’t look like selection was right.”
Buttler is one of the most fearsome openers in T20 cricket, but he has never once opened the batting in ODIs.
England have recently began their first international assignment post the World Cup, a three-match ODI series in the West Indies. Despite putting up 325 in the first game, England were unable to register a victory as West Indies skipper Shai Hope scored a magnificent unbeaten century to take the hosts home.
In that game as well, Buttler had a disappointing outing with the bat, managing three from 13 deliveries while batting at No.6. On being asked if he’s still the right person to take England forward in ODIs, Pietersen said he had no doubt about it, but would like to see him open the batting.
“Absolutely. And he should open the batting. There’s no one better than him batting at the top of the order in white ball cricket. No one,” Pietersen said.
Pietersen spoke to Wisden.com on the sidelines at Legends League Cricket, where he is currently playing for the India Capitals. The final leg of the tournament is being held in Surat, India. At 43 years of age, Pietersen is still going strong, having scored a blistering 77 off 48 balls in one of the games for India Capitals, a knock that included six sixes.
England play their second ODI against West Indies tonight (December 6), a must-win encounter for them if they are to keep the series alive.
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