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Players sound off on Pietersen issue

Tim Bresnan (left) is suggesting England can get by without Kevin Pietersen.

England off-spinner Graeme Swann has insisted that England will not be weakened by the absence of Kevin Pietersen for the third Test against South Africa at Lord’s

Even though star batsman Pietersen scored a superb 149 in the second Test at Headingley, he was dropped after failing to reveal the contents of text messages allegedly sent to South African players during that match.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) told Pietersen his selection was contingent upon him either confirming publicly that no derogatory texts about his team-mates had been sent to South African players or, if they had, to apologise for them.

Pietersen is yet to respond to ECB’s request, amidst allegations the texts contained disparaging remarks about England captain Andrew Strauss. But Swann was adamant the furore would have no impact upon a Test starting Thursday that England must win to retain their world number one ranking in the five-day game.

“We need to pull in the same direction, not 10 of us doing it and one of us not,” Swann wrote in his column for The Sun today.

“Just because you lose one player, it doesn’t necessarily make you a weaker team. In fact, since Kevin retired from limited-overs cricket, we are unbeaten in all matches in the shorter formats.”

Pietersen was named man-of-the-match at Headingley but afterwards gave an extraordinary press conference in which he hinted the Lord’s Test could be his last and suggested dressing room unrest.

“I watched a video of Kevin’s press conference last Monday at Headingley, when he spoke about supposed problems in the dressing room,” Swann added.”I was certainly shocked by those claims.”

Former England opener Geoffrey Boycott, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said: “Texting comments to the opposition about the captain was unforgivable. Telling them how to bowl and get him out is simply not acceptable and deserves a public apology.

“Without Pietersen, England’s chances of beating South Africa are greatly reduced,” Boycott added.

Swann’s team-mate Tim Bresnan fanned the flames further when he suggested that Jonny Bairstow could fill the void caused by Pietersen’s axing and that England could be stronger for their star batsman absence.

“It may be an even better side, it’s one of those things where a talented player is being replaced by another talented player . . . so why should we miss a certain individual because he’s unavailable for selection?”

Bresnan stressed the importance of winning the third Test and said victory would not depend on one individual.

“And it’s not just one guy that’s going to be able to do it for us, it’s a team effort. We all need to pull in the same direction and I’m sure that will happene this week.

“Whatever happens I think we’ll be gunning for a win, which is how we play our best cricket, it’s positive, it’s aggressive and that’s what we need to do to win this game of cricket.” (Cricinfo)

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