Pietersen: Cook a rabbit in the headlights

England

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has all but insisted wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler and all-rounder Ben Stokes be named in the XI for next month's first Test against India.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has all but insisted wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler and all-rounder Ben Stokes be named in the XI for next month's first Test against India.

Buttler was heavily tipped to debut in the recent series against Sri Lanka, which the English lost, but the experienced Matt Prior was ultimately preferred. Stokes, meanwhile, has recovered from a hand injury – and has gathered a fine stretch of form at county level recently.

"It was absolutely fantastic to see Gary Ballance, Sam Robson, Joe Root and Moeen Ali scoring tons. Add Stokes and Buttler to the mix and suddenly England will have a team mostly made up of young cricketers without any baggage, taking to Test cricket quickly and being successful," Pietersen wrote in a column for the <i>Daily Telegraph</i>.

Captain Alastair Cook, meanwhile, has been the subject of plenty of criticism lately. The left-hander has gone 24 innings without a Test match century – and has conceded series defeats to the Australians and Sri Lankans.

"Cook's form will be affecting him. I have played with Cook long enough to know that when that happens he becomes very quiet and introverted. He struggles to handle it. We have all been through it and it does play on your mind," added Pietersen.

"Captaining the side without any runs plays on your mind too. I saw in Cook at Headingley the same look Andrew Strauss had when he played his last Test at Lord's. He was a rabbit in the headlights. It was a shame to see Cook looking that way."

The home side almost forced a late draw in the final Test at Headingley in Leeds earlier this week. Tail-ender James Anderson, however, perished to the penultimate schedule delivery – handing Sri Lanka a maiden two-Test series victory in the United Kingdom.

"Stuart Broad and Anderson looked jaded at Headingley. Why? Why was Jimmy so emotional? We have lost a lot of matches in the past but he has never shown such emotion. He has been through tougher times and suffered lower moments but never been in tears before," concluded Pietersen.

"It says to me there is an underlying current of unhappiness. The Australia tour was hard. We were beaten up due to a lot of reasons I cannot go into right now, and some of the senior players are still suffering, with the result that they are struggling to offer leadership in the dressing room."

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