The run-up to the opening Test against the Black Caps at Lord’s has been dominated by the decision to omit Pietersen from the England squad over ‘trust issues’.
Pietersen has been out of the international team since the end of the 2013-14 Ashes series, but has always hinted that he would love to play for England again.
Buoyed by positive comments from incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves, Pietersen gave up his Indian Premier League contract and returned to county cricket with Surrey, for whom he hit a career-best innings of 355 not out against Leicestershire earlier this week.
But during that innings, new ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss revealed that Pietersen would not be part of the national team this summer, albeit falling short of saying the 34-year-old would never be considered.
Bell will be part of England’s squad for the two Test series, and when asked about the Pietersen situation, he said: “Obviously Kevin is a quality player, probably the best I have ever played with, so he does make any team stronger.??
“I played 10 years with Kevin and obviously we both went through highs and lows and won a lot of cricket together.
“It’s a pretty packed middle order right now. But if he keeps scoring runs??maybe there’s a position in time. Everyone deserves that opportunity now with a long summer ahead.
“I enjoyed my time with him. It’s very difficult to say anything because I don’t know what the conversations have been behind closed doors. Like I said, as players now, all we can focus on is winning games for England and that starts at Lord’s.
“It’s no good us, as players, worrying about that or thinking about that – we have to go out there and make sure that we win.
“Will it harm our chances if we think about it and let it come into the dressing room, and talk about it? Yes, it probably might.
“Our skill now as players, and me as a senior player, is to make sure when we get to Lord’s that we put in a good week of cricket and win that Test match. Then we move on and keep it as simple as that. I think that’s all we can do.”
Bell sees similarities between England’s situation now and Australia’s before their run of Ashes defeats in 2005 and he hopes this summer’s series, which takes place after New Zealand, could be a springboard to a brighter future for a team with a lot of younger players coming through.
He added: “We haven’t been very good over the last 12 months, that’s the reality. We have to stand up now and start putting in good performances. If we can think like that, then I think we will be okay.
“As a team, we are going to have to be brave and actually have to do something very special.??We are going to have to take Australia on and take the odd gamble. It’s going to be important.
“There???s no doubt this summer could get us back there. If we play good cricket, we can start changing people???s opinion on the team. Like I said, get everyone talking about cricket again which is what we play for and what we want to do.”