Sport : Cricket

Bell: KP absence won't distract us

18th September 2012, 12:23pm

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Bell: Squad will be focused on India

Bell: Squad will be focused on India

Ian Bell has vowed England will not let Kevin Pietersen's absence from the India Test tour be a distraction.

Pietersen has not played for the national side since giving a controversial press conference after the second Test against South Africa and subsequently missed one Test, back-to-back one-day Twenty20 series against the Proteas and the forthcoming World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Talks had been ongoing behind the scenes in a bid to build bridges in time for the four-match tour of India in November but, with no resolution yet achieved, Alastair Cook's team will persevere without their star batsman.

But Bell, who picked up England's FTI most valuable player award for 2012, believes selection issues cannot be allowed to affect the dressing room.

"I suppose it has rocked the boat a little bit but it doesn't involve us as players, we don't choose who is in the squad or the team," he said.

"We leave selection to the selectors and for the 11 who are out on the pitch it doesn't make any sense to be distracted by those things.

"We've already seen the one-day team do well against South Africa (without Pietersen) and the Twenty20 team are on a real high too.

"So we're not too worried about things."

Pietersen's continued exile, combined with the retirement of former captain Andrew Strauss has created chances for others - notably uncapped duo Joe Root and Nick Compton, who are both included for the first time, and Jonny Bairstow.

Bell, meanwhile, is now the last man standing from the England team that famously won the 2005 Ashes series.

As such the 30-year-old sees himself as one of the side's senior men and hopes to help ease the new generation into the international arena.

"I guess I'm the only one (from 2005)," he said.

"Back then I was probably as the stage some of these lads are now, still learning my game and looking to improve.

"Now I'm an established player and with Straussy retiring I suppose I can step into that 'senior player' role, pass on the things I've learned and lead by example.

"I've always tried to set an example with my work ethic and the way I go about things. There's Cooky and Jonathan Trott too, so we have some really good role models in this team."

Bairstow made a good impression when standing in for Pietersen in the final Test at Lord's last month and Bell was left impressed by the Yorkshireman, who will now get the chance to lock down a place in the middle-order.

"Whenever somebody misses out it creates an opportunity for someone else to step in. At Lord's Jonny Bairstow came in and scored 150 runs," said Bell.

"You can't worry about who is not in the team, if you're in the 11 it's about scoring runs and taking 20 wickets and Jonny came in and scored a lot of runs."

Bell came out top of the England MVP rankings despite not being part of the Twenty20 squad.

The system, which rates players on their contributions across all disciplines, placed Bell 26 points ahead of Stuart Broad, while Cook came in third.

"I'm delighted to have won the FTI MVP after a long summer of tough cricket. It's great to be recognised with an award which compares you to your peers," he said.

"It's not been the easiest summer by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been pretty happy with my own form in both Tests and ODIs.

"I'd like to have converted more fifties into hundreds and hopefully I can do that this winter after a bit of a break. But I'm confident and very keen to keep contributing to the cause."

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