Melbourne: Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said Friday he is "dumbfounded" that former teammate and Melbourne Renegades signing Ben Stokes has been left out of England's World Cup squad.
Speaking ahead of Saturday night's crucial KFC T20 Big Bash League Melbourne derby at the MCG, Pietersen criticised the way England had handled all-rounder Stokes.
Stokes, brought in as a last-minute replacement for Jesse Ryder, starred in his Renegades debut against Hobart Hurricanes Wednesday night, smashing 77 runs off 37 deliveries.
"I saw him bat for like 10 minutes and he played some beautiful cricket shots," Pietersen was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia (CA) website.
"I said at the start of his career, I said this guy's a little star in the making. If he had been handled the right way and if he had been given the opportunities probably like he should have been, he probably definitely would have been in the England squad."
"I'm dumbfounded he's not in the World Cup squad," added the controversial middle-order batsman.
Stokes, 23, has had a difficult rise to the top of England cricket. After a series of standout performances during the 2013-14 tour of Australia, he scored just 18 runs in 10 innings in the six months that followed and needed surgery on a fractured wrist last March after punching a locker door in frustration during England's tour of the Caribbean.
In early 2013, Stokes and teammate Matt Coles were sent home from an England Lions tour of Australia over "unprofessional misconduct".
But Pietersen said he was pleased to see English players, including Stokes and Perth Scorchers' Michael Carberry, thriving in the Big Bash.
Carberry steered the Scorchers to victory against Brisbane Heat last night with a whirlwind 77 runs off 37 balls.
"How he's not in that side I haven't got a clue but it's just nice to see him do well. I saw Carbs (Carberry) play beautifully too. So it's nice to see these guys doing well. It's nice to see the foreigners coming into a competition and making the competition stronger."