London, Wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who played a fluent innings of 68, has said England’s team spirit would allow them to manage without Kevin Pietersen, as chances are growing that the South Africa born batsman could reject a Test contract when they are offered next month, signaling the end of his international career.
Pietersen’s request to miss two Tests against New Zealand next summer in order to play a full Indian Premier League campaign has cast doubt about his Test future.
He has already quit limited-overs cricket after failing to persuade the England management to let him play just Twenty20 matches.
The rules of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September allow Pietersen to be drafted in until August 18 for England’s defence of the trophy, but that would require a major climb down by either party, The Sun reports.
Prior said: “Kev will do what he wants. You watch a bloke bat like that, and you want him in your team, of course you do. But the special thing about this England team is, that it is a team no single person has done more than anyone else. To have 11 blokes pulling in the same direction is a powerful thing.
“That is not me saying Kevin has not been part of the 11, he’s been a big part. What I am saying is that he would be a huge and sad loss, but the important thing for this team is that, whoever takes his place, all 11 of us pull in the same direction.
“KP is a special talent and it is fantastic to have someone who can play an innings like that. He made Dale Steyn, the best bowler in the world, look like a regular bowler. The shots he was playing were incredible.”
He said: “It’s a very interesting talking point but I don’t have a clue what Kev is going to do. All I can say is he is a freak, an unbelievable batter. My God, you want him in your team. And I’m sure South Africa would want him in their team.”
Pietersen’s dismissal at 149 undermined England’s chances of building a large lead, but Prior at least allowed them to nudge six runs in front of South Africa’s 419.
Head coach Andy Flower and managing director Hugh Morris insist Pietersen must stick to the terms of his contract, which says he cannot pick and choose.
The strong likelihood is that he will sign because he wants to be involved in the glory of back-to-back Ashes series in 2013 and 2013-14.