Cape Town - Kevin Pietersen has urged the ECB not to curb the England players'
choices off the field during upcoming Ashes series in Australia in wake of the
arrest and subsequent suspension of all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Stokes spent a night in prison and his place in the England
touring squad for the Ashes is still in doubt pending a police investigation
for a brawl that took place in Bristol last month.
Pietersen, who was part of the England team that last won an
Ashes Down Under - in 2010-2011, said the players must be free to do what they
want away from game, as "long as you don't do something ridiculously
The 37-year-old Pietersen was also involved in the 2013 tour
that saw England lose five-nil with the batsman sacked by the ECB after that
series for "a breach of trust and team ethics".
Pietersen told ESPNcricinfo: "When we had the great
tour Down Under in 2010-11, we had the most incredible couple of nights out at
the start of that tour, which brought the team so close together.
"Before the 2013 trip, we were talking about having
similar nights out to get the team bonded, but obviously it was too intense
going into the 2013 series and those sort of opportunities didn't present
themselves - or weren't allow them to present themselves - which caused issues.
"I know that it sounds so stupid, but if you go and get
hammered as a team on a night out - as senior and junior players - so long as
you don't do something ridiculously stupid, the bonds you can create there are
better than any ridiculous sessions you can do in the forest in Germany.
"Those are the little bits and pieces of cricketing
nous and sense of understanding a team that were good on that tour but
horrendous in 2013-14."
The South Africa-born Pietersen feels England's current Test
batting line-up is "incredibly weak" and believes captain Joe Root
and Alastair Cook will need to score the bulk of the runs.
Stokes' potential absence, Pietersen feels, will also have a
massive impact on the result of the series that gets underway in Brisbane on 23
Pietersen added: "I think without Root or Cook, that
batting order is incredibly weak, incredibly inexperienced, and with Stokes
maybe not going, I mean, it's even worse.
"People say that 'one bloke doesn't make a team', well,
I mean one bloke who bowls 140kph, get important wickets, can hit 100 off 70
balls, can hit 200 off 100 balls in a Test match, and also, more importantly,
catches everything at slip off the spinner, is a massive player. A massive,