'England can cope without KP'

2010-07-07 19:28
Kevin Pietersen (AFP)
Nottingham - England captain Andrew Strauss insists he has no qualms about leading a side without Kevin Pietersen.

The star batsman will miss the three one-dayers against Bangladesh, starting at Trent Bridge here on Thursday, with a thigh injury - although England selection chief Geoff Miller said the South Africa-born shotmaker would have been rested in any event.

Pietersen has gone 16 ODI innings without a fifty and while his place, when fit, is not yet under threat, the loss of arguably their most talented player means England are set to give one of the Warwickshire duo of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott a chance to fill the gap.

"He (Pietersen) is a loss because he's a world-class player but he's being replaced by people with proven track records in international cricket," Strauss told reporters at Trent Bridge here on Wednesday.

"It's not as if we're blooding a youngster on the back of losing our biggest player. I'm entirely confident we've got the reserves in place to cope with that loss," Strauss added.

Bell, 28, has played 79 one-dayers for England but hasn't featured in one since facing India in Bangalore back in November 2008.

However, he restated his one-day case with a limited overs best 158, off 143 balls, for the second string England Lions in their dramatic triangular series tied match against India A in Worcester on Tuesday.

Bell, who averages just over 35 in ODIS, has been accused of scoring too slowly to be an effective batsman in the one-day game.

Strauss though said: "His form this year has been excellent. He's played, by all accounts, very positively and very aggressively for both Warwickshire and the Lions.

"He's a good package and potentially he is a world-class player. It's fantastic to have the likes of him to call upon and Jonathan Trott as well, who has never let anyone down in an England shirt in one-day cricket and has been in outstanding form for Warwickshire as well.

"They are two very, very high-quality replacements and that bodes well."

Turning to Bell, who has also played 57 Tests, opening batsman Strauss added: "I think he has made a conscious effort to be more aggressive.

"He's always had the shots, the key is always when to use them. At the moment, he's taking on the shots more and finding he's a good enough player they'll come off more times than not."

"He's really maturing as a cricketer. I don't think he's trying to prove to people he can play. He's more comfortable with his game and I think that's why his results have been better."

Bell has been criticised throughout his England career for not making runs when they are most needed but innings of 72 against Australia on the first day of last year's final Ashes Test and 140 in Durban that set up a second Test victory away to South Africa went some way to answering that charge.

"He was very keen to play an innings of real substance when England were under pressure and he's been able to do that a couple of times in the last six months, which is a nice step forward for him," Strauss said.

Asked if Bell would fill Pietersen's position at No 3, a coy Strauss replied: "There's a chance, let's put it that way."

Read more on:    andrew strauss  |  kevin pietersen


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