England cannot ‘replace’ Kevin Pietersen, says Ian Bell

England are set for a northern summer of change with Test series against Sri Lanka and India, which Bell believes will be an ‘exciting chapter’.

The likes of Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott, who were all part of the squad that lost their Ashes tour of Australia 5-0 earlier this year, will be absent, while former coach Andy Flower has been replaced by Ashley Giles.

Swann has quit international cricket, while Trott’s future remains unclear after revelations of mental illness during the tour of Australia.

But it is the sacking of Pietersen that has dominated the English media’s coverage ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka, due to the South African-born batsman’s ability to win matches on his own.

Pietersen averaged 47.28 in Test cricket and scored 23 centuries, and Bell has warned the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) they cannot try and find a complete replica of the swashbuckling batsman.

“I mean we’re never going to replace Kevin Pietersen,” Bell told the London Evening Standard .

“It would be very hard on any player coming in to say you’ve got to replace him. I don’t think we”re going to do that.

“He’s a one-off player in terms of world cricket.”

Pietersen was dumped by the ECB in February for not providing enough support to captain Alastair Cook.

While some pundits feel England cannot survive without Pietersen, Bell argued it will be exciting to see the Test team embark on a new era against Sri Lanka and India.

“I’m really looking forward to the start of the international season,” Bell said.

“This summer is an exciting chapter in English cricket. I’ve been very lucky to have been involved in five or six years of some unbelievably good stuff, winning a lot of series.

“Now, all of a sudden, for all sorts of reasons, a lot of guys are not with this side anymore. So this is a completely different challenge, a season full of different faces. That’s quite exciting.

“What will please supporters is to learn the reaction of a lot of players to what happened in the winter. The response in the last month in county cricket has been fantastic; guys getting hundreds, taking wickets and also the younger players performing.

“There’s a lot of talent out there, a lot of competition. People now think this is an opportunity to get into the England team, that this is their chance. We need to take that spirit into the international season and, when we put on the England shirts, play attacking cricket, the kind that people want to come and watch.”

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