London: Kevin Pietersen has slammed England captain Alastair Cook as "selfish" for playing down his team`s chances of winning next year`s World Cup.
Cook`s side beat India by 41 runs on Friday to salvage some pride after an emphatic defeat in the one-day series, but former England batsman Pietersen is still frustrated by what he sees as a negative attitude in the national team hierarchy.
He believes Cook is keen to take a low-key approach to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to avoid heaping further pressure onto his own shoulders after his poor one-day displays, which prompted several ex-England stars to call for him to step down as limited overs skipper.
"I think it is selfish that the captain is not talking positively about winning the World Cup," Pietersen wrote in his Daily Telegraph column on Saturday.
"In Alastair Cook`s own words it is `far fetched` to believe we can win the tournament. I just do not buy that. It is also nonsense to think we do not have time to make changes that could transform England`s chances."
Pietersen revealed that the lack of positivity going into next year`s tournament is especially galling after the Ashes schedule was amended to improve England`s chances.
The controversial batsman was axed after that dismal Ashes campaign after falling out with several members of Cook`s team.
"There is a theory the England and Wales Cricket Board are reluctant to remove Cook as captain of the one-day team because it might destabilise the camp ahead of next year`s Ashes," he added.
"That is hard to swallow for those of us who endured back-to-back Ashes campaigns just so this winter could be dedicated to one-day cricket in the lead-up to the World Cup."
Although Cook came through similar doubts about his suitability to lead the Test side earlier in the season, Pietersen believes his style fundamentally does not fit in with what is required in the shorter form of the game.
The 34-year-old, who also suggested English stars should spend time in the IPL to hone their limited overs skills, has joined Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan in suggesting Cook should just focus on the Tests.
"This is not a witch-hunt against Cook. But he would gain a lot of respect if he admitted he is not the right man to open the batting and captain the one-day team, and decided he was going to concentrate all his efforts on winning back the Ashes," Pietersen added.