Kevin Pietersen has become the first major England player, past or present, to state publically that Ben Stokes should play no part in the Ashes – and he has even reopened old wounds with his former adversary Andrew Strauss by suggesting that Strauss’ job could be is in jeopardy because of the issue.
The Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether charges will be brought against Stokes after receiving a report from Avon and Somerset Police about his alleged part in a fracas outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
But Pietersen told the Mail on Sunday that his mind is already made up and that Stokes should not set foot in Australia.
“It would be wrong for Stokes to be on this tour,’ Pietersen said. “From what we’ve seen on that coverage, that bloke doesn’t play for England again for a while.”
Strauss, director of England cricket, was instrumental to the banishing of Pietersen from England’s set-up on the grounds that he undermined the team ethic.
In a wide-ranging interview, Pietersen says he is not bitter, and that he is “in such a cool space” as he rebuilds his life on the T20 circuit and with a commitment to rhino conservation.
But he warned: “The issue with Ben Stokes isn’t about Ben Stokes. It’s about Andrew Strauss. He’s the one who’s going to make this call about if and when Stokes returns. The CPS might make it for him but if they don’t, this is on Strauss.
“This is his biggest decision. Forget what he’s ever done to me. This is his biggest call. He likes to do things by the book. By his book. He doesn’t have much hair at the moment. He could lose it all on this decision. It’s a monster.”