KP: Ballance ‘not up to international standard’

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has continued to embark upon his media career, writing positively about the Test side, while also saying that Gary Ballance was 'not up to international standard' right now.

Pietersen was referring to Ballance's poor runs of form in recent series against the West Indies and New Zealand, both series ended up drawn after England lost the final Tests. KP also praised, Ben Stokes, who was superb at Lord's this month.

Pietersen wrote in the Telegraph: "It was lovely to see England win (the first Test) and Stokes play so well, especially given how he has been treated in recent times.

"As I have said from the beginning, not picking him for the World Cup was a mistake, and I hope he is now backed by Trevor Bayliss, who I hear is a very good coach.

"He inherits a squad with talent that needs to be encouraged to express itself but the batting is a problem.

"I feel very sorry for Ian Bell. Over the last 12-14 months he has not quite produced the numbers he is capable of but he will be back.

"He is a fantastic player but I would put him up to three to challenge him and move Gary Ballance to five because unfortunately right now his (Ballance) technique is not quite up to international standard.

"He has to go and work on that. His technique suggests he is scared of the short ball. You cannot bat in England with your right foot, as a left hander, behind the popping crease.

"You have to go towards the ball with your feet and head. The technique is not doing him any favours and I don't know why nobody has told him before."

KP also wrote positively about skipper Cook, who has found recent form with the bat and did well against the Kiwis, as well as becoming the youngest player to score 9000 Test runs.

Pietersen, who does not have a good relationship with Cook by all accounts, wrote: "Alastair Cook is a fantastic batter. You do not get 9,000 runs at the age of 30 if you are a clown and if England are to stand half a chance against Australia he has to bat really well.

"It is good to see him back to his best and it is due to the fact he has stopped playing one-day cricket and is leaving the ball well outside off stump.

"When he was struggling he was pushing and prodding at it which is understandable because silly habits can creep into your game. Now he knows where his off stump is and there are thousands of runs left in him if his back holds up and he wants to carry on."