Pietersen slams decision to drop Ian Bell as ‘pathetic’

London, Nov 19 (IANS) Exiled England batsman Kevin Pietersen on Thursday slammed the national selectors for their decision to drop experienced Ian Bell from the Test cricket squad, terming it as “pathetic”.

Bell was a surprise omission from the squad for the forthcoming tour of South Africa starting on December 26. Bell, the eighth highest run-scorer in England’s Test history, averaged just over 30 in the recent series with Pakistan, and has not scored a century since July last year.

Pietersen, who has been out in the international cold since January 2014, says the selectors have made a serious mistake in overlooking one of their most experienced batsman ahead of what will be a tough tour against the world No 1 Test nation.

“I’m actually sitting here very, very, very annoyed. How can you take somebody who has played over 100 Test matches — and you’ve got the biggest Test series of the year coming up, against the No.1 side in the world — and drop him, leave him out of the tour,” Pietersen said in a video posted on Twitter.

“I mean it’s absolutely ridiculous. I understand people who say ‘he might have not scored some runs in a while’. But you are going to play South Africa, in South Africa against one of the best bowling attacks that has bowled over the last few years,” he said.

Pietersen says right-handed Bell is being treated differently from skipper Alastair Cook.

England’s selectors stuck by Cook despite a barren spell with the bat in which the opener failed to reach three figures in nearly two years, between May 2013 and May 2015.

“You have to take him (Bell) because of his experience. You just have to take him. You cannot drop him before this. If he doesn’t score runs after South Africa then maybe I could sort of understand it. But I just do not understand the thinking behind this,” he said.

“Captain Cook himself, he can go two years without scoring a Test hundred but he can play every single game. ‘Belly’ struggles a little bit, his last hundred nine or ten Tests ago, but he’s not good enough to get on the South Africa tour,” Pietersen said.

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