Kevin Pietersen is widely regarded as one of England's true cricket greats.
The South African-born batsman represented the national side in Test and ODI cricket between 2005 and 2014, in an impressive career boasting 32 centuries, 20 man of the match awards, and four Ashes victories.
The 38-year-old's final years in the game were, however, embroiled with controversy, as a dispute with Peter Moores forced him to resign his captaincy after just five months in January 2009 - a decision that infinitely damaged his relationship with the ECB, culminating in his withdrawal from the international side in 2014.
Pietersen has unsurprisingly continued to spark debate post-retirement, with his latest comments on the sport ahead of the 2019 World Cup.
Speaking to the press in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, 'KP' claimed that an absence of world-class players is damaging the quality of the game globally.
Pietersen told reporters that he felt the standard of cricket worldwide had declined in the last few years.
''I think the world of cricket is actually suffering," he started, as per Sport24.
"I've done an interview recently, I don't think the standard is what it used to be and I'm only talking six, seven, eight or nine years ago.
''The standard was magnificent back then with guys like Sangakkara, Lee, Chris Gayle, Bravo, Brian Lara and all these other great players.'
''Ten years ago, there were these great Australians that we used to play against, such as Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Wane and all those guys. I mean, the world of cricket is suffering.''
Pietersen also identified India captain Virat Kohli as the one truly world-class player currently on show.
''I don't see many of them around anymore. Virat Kohli is probably the only global superstar in cricket right now.''
While Pietersen's time in the game coincided with a golden generation of legendary players, it is perhaps unfair to suggest that there is such an identifiable trend of regression in the sport's quality.
His view is certainly not one shared by his former England teammate James Anderson, who has solidified the status of the current national side as one of the best England teams in history, by claiming that they are favourites ahead of hosting the World Cup.
Anderson spoke of the side's widespread talent, and argued that hosting the showpiece was a key advantage, saying that: ''In our conditions, I don’t think anyone is going to come near us.''
England certainly boast a formidable line-up, with quality of batsmen Eoin Morgan and Joe Root, the all-rounder abilities of Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, and the talent of leg spinner Adil Rashid.News Now - Sport News