England spin bowler Graeme Swann has promised England will not be a "weaker team" without Kevin Pietersen ahead of their third Test match against South Africa.
The controversial Pietersen was dropped after he apparently texted Proteas team members making unflattering remarks about England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower, and refused to reveal what the messages stated.
And Swann, who was omitted for the second Test at Headingley, suggested the batsman's likely replacement Jonny Bairstow will ensure a more united front.
"We all need to be pulling in the same direction — not 10 of us doing it and one of us not," the Northamptonshire man said in his Sun column.
"Just because you lose one player, it doesn’t necessarily make you a weaker team. In fact, since Kevin retired from limited-overs cricket, we are unbeaten in all matches in the shorter formats."
Swann, 33, bizarrely stated how "shocked" he was that Pietersen "spoke about supposed problems in the dressing room". For it was Swann who criticised Pietersen in his autobiography The Breaks Are Off when he asserted the batsman "was never the right man to be captain".
Pietersen was Strauss' predecessor during an ill-fated year skippering the England team in which time he also fell out with coach Peter Moores.
"I need someone who can calm me down but Kev could get quite wound up. At one point in India his leadership was reduced to a period of screaming 'f*****g bowl f*****g straight' at everyone."
When it was reported last week Pietersen suspected a team-mate was behind a parody account of him on Twitter, HuffPost UK readers voted that the likeliest joker in the pack was Swann.