Kevin Pietersen has hit out at England supporters for making Jack Leach the ‘laughing stock’ of the 2019 Ashes series ahead of the fifth Test against Australia at The Oval.
Leach became an instant cult hero when he helped Ben Stokes keep the series alive with a crucial one-run innings at Headingley, but there were no such heroics from England at Old Trafford.
Despite Leach and England’s tail battling hard on the final day in Manchester, Josh Hazlewood trapped Craig Overton lbw with 13.3 overs to spare to retain the urn for the tourists.
Steve Smith once again took the plaudits after another majestic batting display, while Hazlewood and Pat Cummings received widespread praise for their stellar bowling performances.
During Australia’s celebrations, Smith donned a pair of glasses which was perceived as a swipe at England spinner Leach.
A number of England fans also rocked up at Old Trafford as Leach in fancy dress, but Pietersen failed to see the funny side, highlighting the spin bowler’s apparent failures with the ball.
‘It’s doing my head in that a bloke who’s supposed to win games for England is becoming a laughing stock,’ Pietersen told Betway.
‘You’ve got people in the stands taking the mickey out of him, wearing masks and fake glasses. Commentators are talking about his Specsavers deal.
‘England are losing an Ashes series and he’s only taken eight wickets at 30 in three Test matches. It doesn’t look like he’s troubled anyone. It just annoys me.
‘During the TV coverage they showed that video of him showing everybody how he got his one run at Headingley.
‘Now I’m not saying that you don’t do these things. It can be good for team spirit to have a bit of fun. But from my side, I want to win.
‘I don’t want to see the crowd talking about how funny he is, or how funny that run was, or Specsavers. I want to see him producing on the field and I want to see him winning matches for England with his bowling.’
Pietersen insists Leach is failing to do his primary job of taking wickets, comparing his performances with predecessors Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
‘When we beat Australia, Graeme Swann took big wickets for us. For Australia, Shane Warne and now Nathan Lyon take big wickets,’ Pietersen added.
‘We had Monty Panesar. But Monty, who everybody laughed at when he fielded the ball, knocked over the likes of Tendulkar and Sehwag. He got big Australian wickets.
‘When we beat India in India, he and Swann bowled beautifully. Yes, some people laughed, but he was still doing his job.
‘Jack Leach isn’t doing his job.
‘So what does he want to be remembered as? Does he want to be remembered as this funny guy who can hold a bat, or as a match-winner for England?’
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