Kevin Pietersen is not bigger than England team - Alec Stewart

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen is a world-class player in all forms of the game.

Some of his batting touches are genius, with the latest example of his wonderful talent coming in the shape of the magnificent 149 for England in the second Test against South Africa.

Ever since he burst on to the scene in 2005 with three one-day international hundreds against South Africa, the country of his birth, he has been in the headlines.

Sometimes this is for his achievements on the pitch, like his century against Australia at The Oval in 2005 that sealed England the Ashes after a 19-year wait, while on other occasions it can be for controversy off the pitch. The row between him and England coach Peter Moores that ended Pietersen's short reign as captain is one example that springs to mind.

Following his comments after the Headingley Test, I'm very disappointed and sad that we are discussing Pietersen's Test future, rather than marvelling at what was a brilliant innings.

I do not know the ins and outs of the discussions between Pietersen and the England and Wales Cricket Board that have created this furore, so I do not know if this is a situation created by Kevin, or one that is beyond his control.

There are obviously contractual issues, issues that are proving difficult to resolve. I'd like to think that all parties involved are striving to find common ground, but it is imperative that the ECB remains in full control of all its contracted players.

Having said that, it must be remembered that playing for England is Pietersen's job and he has to be able to enjoy going to work. If a situation has arisen where he is unable to do that, then he has every right to review it.

From hearing his comments on Monday, one thing that did leap out was when Pietersen said there are points he wants to sort out in the dressing room. What is he referring to?

As an outsider looking in, it seems like a very closely knit England team, with a good spirit. Is Pietersen saying he has issues with players and management? I don't know.

That being said, I do not see this as being a distraction for the rest of the players before the must-win third and final Test against South Africa at Lord's.

They can obviously do without it, but it won't affect them. Why would it? They will still be focused on the job in hand and Pietersen will still want to show the world what a brilliant player he is.

By the same token, I don't see it as a huge issue for captain Andrew Strauss. This is a problem above his head, for the likes of ECB chairman Giles Clarke, chief executive David Collier, managing director of England cricket Hugh Morris and team director Andy Flower to resolve.

It's important to stress that no player, however good, is bigger than the team, and no one is irreplaceable. Granted, it may take longer to fill the boots of some more than others, but there will always, eventually, be someone to step in.

That applies to Pietersen. If it comes to the stage where England have to deal without him, then they will cope.

However, I hope for his sake, for England's, and for the game as a whole, that international cricket is not deprived of his wonderful talent and that whatever decisions that are made are well thought through and without regrets.

Alec Stewart was talking to BBC Sport's Stephan Shemilt.

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