Kevin Pietersen has described England’s Ashes squad as “horrendous” and said the team “may as well not go” to Australia, as they seek to defend the Urn Down Under.
England announced their 16-man squad to travel to Australia on Wednesday, with the strength of their batting line-up immediately coming under question.
To compound the ECB’s troubles, influential all-rounder Ben Stokes had been arrested less than 48 hours before the announcement, although he was still named in the squad despite his alleged altercation.
Stokes was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and released without charge on Monday, but remains under investigation, with a video allegedly showing him throwing punches in a street fight.
On his Twitter page, ex-England captain Pietersen wrote: “Before bed, I have a comment on England's Ashes squad - it's horrendous! They may as well not go!”
He later added: “Oh no! Just seen [The Sun’s] front page and video! Cancel England's flights please!
“I actually really feel sorry for [Joe] Root, [Alastair] Cook, [Jimmy] Anderson and [Stuart] Broad! Now I'm going to bed!”
Another ex-England captain, Michael Vaughan, was also quick to criticise Stokes and question England’s preparations for the Ashes tour.
“England's wheels going Down Under are very loose,” Vaughan told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast programme.
“You do worry about [Stokes] because he's got this switch that he can't switch off,” he added.
“I'm all for cricketers having a bit of downtime but he has got to look himself in the mirror. He can have as many talks from the England management, from his wife and his agent but he has got to understand now what he's doing and what he's been involved in in the last few days.”
Vaughan also questioned what Stokes was doing out at such a late hour in the first place.
He added: “I just don't understand why he'd want to be in a bar at 2.30 on a Monday morning before a game on Wednesday. He's putting himself in a place where he's a target - he's a very famous person these days.
“I was gobsmacked when I saw (the video) last night, I couldn't really believe what I was watching. But we do need to know the full facts and understand exactly what happened at the start.”