World Twenty20: 'England exit could have been avoided with Pietersen and Swann on board'
Selectors hampered chances by picking too few slow bowling options...
Last Updated: 01/04/14 10:43am
England might still be in the World Twenty20 if they'd stuck by Kevin Pietersen, says Ricky Ponting.
Stuart Broad's side crashed out of the competition in humiliating fashion, losing to the Netherlands by 45 runs, to cap a miserable winter that included a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
Spinner Graeme Swann retired after the third Test of that series, with the Ashes lost, while Pietersen - another integral member of England's 2010 World Twenty20 winning side - was axed from the set-up in February with the ECB saying Test skipper Alastair Cook must have the "full support of all players".
Former Australia skipper Ponting said Pietersen's absence in particular had cost England's tournament chances dear.
"They made a big call but there would have been a lot of thinking and a lot of evidence, I guess, into them making that decision because to cut your best player out of all forms of cricket for England is such a big decision to make," said the 39-year-old.
"But they've obviously got their reasons for doing that. I'm pretty sure, though, that if Kevin Pietersen had been playing the way he was 12 months before that he'd still be in the England side - I think that's the bottom line.
"It was almost like there was an opportunity there because he wasn't scoring the runs that he had been scoring that they could leave him out of the side.
"If you put Swann and Pietersen into this England side, I can guarantee straight away that the results might have been a little bit different.
"Swann, one of the best spin bowlers in the world, would have bowled well and Kevin is a good player of spin as well so he would have played well in these conditions."
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain said in the wake of England's Dutch defeat that no-one in English cricket could feel their job is secure.
Ponting agreed that the blame shouldn't be solely laid at the door of batting coach Graham Thorpe, bowling coach David Saker or fielding coach Paul Collingwood - or their boss, limited overs coach Ashley Giles - and said that questions must be asked of a selection panel that left England with so few slow bowling options.
"If you look back on England's performances right through this tournament, if you take Alex Hales' hundred against Sri Lanka out there hasn't been a whole lot of other positive stuff to talk about.
"If you look at that game, every other aspect of that game was very poor. They dropped a lot of catches, their bowling was poor; they had one individual performance come out of that game and it almost save their whole tournament, to a certain degree."
He added: "You can't just point the finger at one particular coach, person or player. Every one of those coaches would have worked those guys inside out. I think you've got to go back further than that and look at the selections - was that the right squad to send out there?
"When you are playing in those conditions, you need guys who can bat well in those conditions and you need lots of bowling options. If you look through the Australian team and the England team that haven't progressed I don't think we had many slow bowling options in our line-ups.
"Moeen Ali was a slow bowling option but he only bowled one over in all of the games. Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the West Indies, India had four, five, six slow bowling options that they are using. England will say that they batted well and made 190 on a few occasions but they haven't been able to defend it because of those bowling options."
Ponting, who led Australia to Ashes victory in 2006/07 but could not repeat the feat in 2009 and 2010/11, said England's deflating World Twenty20 exit was the continuation of a performance slide sparked by a side that went to Australia in decline.
"I said coming into the [Australian] summer that if Australia started the first Test match well in Brisbane and were able to win it that I felt that they could win the series 5-0," he reflected.
"I just had a feeling that some of the individuals in the England team were past their peak. The team had been up for a long time and they'd had a lot of success and sooner or later it is going to go down.
"The Australian team, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite - they were just on the verge of getting some experience into their younger players; some of their younger players were starting to work out what Test cricket is all about and there was a great hunger around that group.
"They played that way in Brisbane - they attacked them and with everything they did and said they got inside that English camp early on and broke them down.
"That has led, I believe, to a bit of uncertainty around their cricket. Some of the frailties that we've seen come out even in this tournament with guys not backing themselves to hit the ball over the top.
"Look at the way the Indian batsmen play this slower-type bowling: they either work it into the gap and get off strike or they hit it over the fence and we didn't see that at all from this English team when the conditions were slow."