Ian Bell: We don't need Kevin Pietersen in our side to win at Lord's
View From the Middle
When we left Leeds after drawing the second Test against South Africa, there was a sense that the momentum had shifted in our favour and we were in a positive frame of mind. A lot has happened since then but I can assure you we are approaching the decisive final Test with the same air of confidence.
Would I hope to play with Kevin Pietersen again in an England shirt? Yes, 100 per cent. There is no doubt about that. I'm a big Kevin Pietersen fan. You only have to see how he played the other day. He showed he is as dominant and ruthless a player as there is in world cricket.
Did I sense he was unhappy? I haven't spoken to him since we left Leeds and it's difficult to comment, not knowing the ins and outs.
For everyone in English cricket it would be great if we could win this Test, move on and see what the future holds, whether Kev will be back in the team or if he goes another route. That's out of our hands. We want to carry on winning Tests and trying to keep ourselves at the top in all forms.
I'm as confident about winning this Test without Kev as I would have been if he'd been here with us. The great thing about this team is that every player chips in towards victories. You only have to look at the last Ashes series to know that is true.
I'm aware that people are talking about team unity but as far as I'm concerned, our dressing room is still fantastic. I was unaware of the things that were going on. Not only is this dressing room very good, so is the culture of English cricket.
I have always found it easy to get on with people in this dressing room. We don't want a squad where everyone says "yes". A healthy dressing room is people who challenge each other and try to get better. That's what this environment is all about.
A lot of players overlap between the Lions and the senior team, which means very few people come in and don't know anyone. It's a very welcoming dressing room and still a great environment for us to try to win matches. We're a very strong team in all forms of the game and in recent times, I don't think English cricket has ever been in a better place.
We all desperately want to win every game we can play in. There have been issues but there is nothing I can do or say that will change what's gone on and it hasn't really affected me. As a player I can understand that the captain, the coach and the management have to look after the whole thing. For me it's about contributing to help England win.
I'm just looking forward to playing a part in Andrew Strauss's 100th Test match. He made his debut at Lord's and he will play his 100th Test here. There can't be any better place for him to do it. He is the best captain I've played under for England. As a role model, you can't get any better.
If you see him after he's batted, from the way he talks you wouldn't be able to tell whether he has got nought or a hundred, and that's where you want to get to as a cricketer. When you see Straussy, you would never know what was going on inside his head, and that's a great strength.
He's always been a mature person within the cricket environment, a great leader of men and the kind of guy you'd follow. There have been times in my career, such as 2009, when I had a couple of good chats with him, where he backed me fully and gave me confidence to play how I could, and since those days I've gone on to bigger and better things. He has really helped me to get the best out of myself. He has led this team from the front, sometimes in tough situations. This should be celebrated and everyone is really happy it's his 100th Test. It should mean the team is in a great mood going into the match.
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