Birmingham: Former England captain Kevin Pietersen slammed current skipper Ben Stokes for the way he batted in the first innings against India on day three of rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston, saying it was reckless batting and the left-handed batter had brain fade moments thrice in ten minutes.
Stokes was out for 25 in England’s first innings on Sunday.
After being beaten on both sides of the wicket by captain Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, Stokes opted to step out against the pacers, getting some runs in the process. He had two reprieves as Shardul Thakur and Bumrah dropped simple catches.
On the very next ball after being dropped for a second time in the day, Stokes stepped out for a big shot off Thakur, only for Bumrah to take a superb diving catch at mid-off, ending his stay at the crease for 25 and bringing his 66-run stand with Bairstow to close.
“I was watching Stokes run down the wicket and slog the ball straight into the air. It was reckless batting; it was not defending your wicket. Test match hundreds are valuable commodities, they mean a hell of a lot because of the stress, tension, patience and discipline. He had three brain fades in 10 minutes. That devaluing of his Test wicket may not be a good thing. He is too good a player to do this,” said Pietersen during the lunch break on Sky Sports.
Jonny Bairstow, who was the overnight batter alongside Stokes, also endured a period of nervous play and various misses before embracing his aggressive self to go from 13 off 60 balls to 91 not out off 113 balls at lunch. Pietersen advised Stokes to take a leaf out of Bairstow’s batting, which has been a dominating exhibition of timing and sheer power.
“I would tell Ben that he doesn’t need to try and prove a point by being ultra-aggressive. The bowler needs to be bowling his best deliveries in order to get Stokes out. At the moment, I see Stokes trying to command authority by running at bowlers. He doesn’t need to do that when England are in strife. I would tell him to stand still and do what Bairstow is doing. He is too good a player to be doing what he is doing.”
Asked about England’s aggressive intent in the opening session, termed “BazBall” ever since ex-New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum took charge as head coach, Pietersen remarked that Bairstow has been leading England’s entertaining and aggressive path with the bat beautifully.
“It’s a new approach and entertaining, for sure. Stokes has been talking about that aggressive nature and the way he believes Test cricket needs to be played in this era. But Bairstow is playing with control. He is calm, and composed, is standing still, and playing the ball as he sees it. He is not running down the wicket, he is being calculated. There is no slogging at all, he is playing fabulously.”
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