Kevin Pietersen axing took a lot of guts, says Alastair Cook

England captain Alastair Cook on Kevin Pietersen sacking

Test captain Alastair Cook says it took "a lot of guts and consideration" to end Kevin Pietersen's England career.

Cook, 29, who was influential in the batsman's exit in February, said England's dressing room would be stronger without the batsman.

Speaking about Pietersen's axing for the first time, Cook told the BBC: "We all know how important team culture and team unity is.

"It was obviously a very big and important decision."

Pietersen, 33, England's all-time leading run-scorer across all formats, was told of the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on 4 February.

The South African-born cricketer scored 8,181 runs at an average of 47.28 in 104 Tests, in addition to 4,440 runs in 136 one-day internationals and 1,176 runs in 37 Twenty20s.

Cook was part of a three-man panel who told him of their decision after England's disastrous 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia, and he expects the reasons to be made public soon.

"I know things will become clearer in a little bit of time," he said. "I know it is frustrating. It is frustrating for me because I have not totally been able to tell my side of the story. People just have to be a little bit patient."

Cook has pledged to work with the new head coach to restore England's fortunes after a disappointing winter, including Ashes defeat and an early World Twenty20 exit in Bangladesh.

Andy Flower resigned as team director in January after the Ashes defeat.

Flower split coaching duties with limited-overs coach Ashley Giles in 2012 and focused on the Test side, but the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) want the new head coach to be responsible for the national team in all formats of the game.

Giles says he wants the job but Cook accepts the ECB may look beyond the former Warwickshire director of cricket, who this year has overseen a 4-1 one-day and 3-0 T20 series defeats in Australia and a group stage exit from the World Twenty20.

"Me, the new coach and the senior players have a responsibility to take this new England side forward," Cook said.

"The arguments are each and all. Someone from the domestic game knows the England side very well and that gives him an advantage. But if they have a totally fresh outlook from not being involved, you have that side of the coin as well. You are looking for the best candidate and best coach.

"Now the winter has gone and we are at the start of a new era. Clearly it has only just finished and the dust hasn't quite settled on the Twenty20 but we have to regroup."

Meanwhile, England batting coach Graham Gooch was also asked about the future of English cricket after a disappointing winter.

He told BBC Sport: "I don't know what will be going on until the new coach is appointed. I continue to work with the players and the England set-up and keep working until we find out what happened.

"Whoever is appointed as coach will have his own ideas, his vision of England cricket. The team that has performed for England did brilliantly in winning Ashes three times, reaching number one, but that team is being dismantled. Things move, you have to move on and rebuild."

Gooch, England's all-time leading run-scorer with 8,900 in 118 Tests, also backed captain Cook.

"He is the best man to captain England," he said. "He will come to be a lot stronger after what has happened. It is not that important if you get knocked down, it is how you get up that counts.

"He is a fighter, he is the best England player I have ever worked with. He has been a model professional, is disciplined and will put his body on the line for his country.

"If you wanted an ideal role model as a cricketer, Alastair Cook would be that man. He is certainly the future of English cricket."