Strauss: Australia off the mark with KP criticism

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss has hit back at Australian claims that misfiring batsman Kevin Pietersen could be a disruptive influence during the Ashes.

Ex-Aussie coach John Buchanan called Pietersen “fragmentary and individualist” and warned he could upset the squad during the series, which starts next month.

But Strauss said: “Kevin Pietersen has never been a problem for the England cricket team. Buchanan is off the mark to say that. I’m sure Kevin will come to the party.”

Strauss also insisted that Pietersen, who has gone 18 months without a Test century, would not be dropped before the series starts.

“I couldn’t see that happening,” he added. “We all know what sort of character he is, we know these sort of big Ashes series tend to bring out the best in him and to me that’s very encouraging. He’s been out of form, that happens to all of us, and anyone who’s played international cricket for any length of time knows it only takes one innings to get yourself back in form. For Kevin it might be one of the first-class games that precede the Ashes, it may be in the first Test match, but he’ll come right; he’s too good a player not to.”