London: England offspinner Graeme Swann has said that the absence of Kevin Pietersen will not affect their preparation for the third and final Test against South Africa at Lord's.
"We need to pull in the same direction, not 10 of us doing it and one of us not. Just because you lose one player, it doesn't necessarily make you a weaker team," Swann said in his column for the Sun. "In fact, since Kevin retired from limited-overs cricket, we are unbeaten in all matches in the shorter formats," he added.
Pietersen was dropped by England after he allegedly sent some 'derogatory' text messages about his team-mates to some of his South African counterparts after the Headingley Test.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) delayed the England team selection by five hours on Sunday so that Pietersen could clarify his stand or apologise if he had sent those messages. But no answer from the 32-year-old prompted ECB to take a stern action of axing him from the third Test, setting a precedent for the rest that sanctity of the team always comes first.
Pietersen played one of the finest innings of his life as his Man-of-the-Match 149 saved Headingley Test for England. But his post-match conference after the Leeds Test in which he hinted at dressing-room unrest left his team-mates and many others dumbfounded.
"I watched a video of Kevin's press conference last Monday at Headingley, when he spoke about supposed problems in the dressing room," Swann said. "I was certainly shocked by those claims. I don't know if there were developments during the week at Headingley after I left, but it was news to me.
"And, speaking to a couple of the other lads, it was news to them as well. I'd just say that, if there were issues, we pride ourselves on having a very open dressing room and he certainly didn't mention any problems to anyone else."
Moreover, allrounder Tim Bresnan was of the same opinion as Swann and said, "It may be an even better side."
"It's one of those things where a talented player has been replaced by another talented player. Why should we miss certain individuals just because they're not available for selection?".
Bresnan said the spirit among the squad, who are 1-0 down in the series, had not been destabilised.
"We met up yesterday, the mood in the camp was exceptional. It's just like it always is. Always relaxed, quite focused, but we've always got the driving desire to get that win," he added.
England will lose their No. 1 Test status if South Africa cling on to their 1-0 lead at the end of the Lord’s Test. The home side must beat the visitors to square the series and hold on to the No. 1 spot.
Pietersen announced his retirement from limited-overs international cricket in June. And although his name was absent from the 30-member provisional squad selected for next month's ICC World Twenty20, he can make it to the final 15 on Saturday if the negotiations between his representatives and the ECB reach fruitful conclusion.