Pietersen affair well and truly behind us says Cook

England captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen
England captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen
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Alastair Cook insists Kevin Pietersen is no longer a topic of conversation in the England dressing room and claims the players are eager to move on ahead of their one-day international series in Sri Lanka.

England fly out tomorrow for seven matches on the sub-continent as they begin a winter’s preparation for February’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Pietersen will not be on the plane, however, after he was axed from the international set-up earlier this year and launched a scathing attack on the England dressing room in an autobiography released in October.

“We’ve had a couple of weeks together and we haven’t felt the need to talk about it at all,” said Cook. “It’s been a really good place to be around in the last couple of weeks. I think we have moved on – all the fall out from it has happened.

“In the summer I felt we were moving on as a side and then we had the release date – so everyone was talking about it. It’s all happened now, it’s all out now from his side and as players we’ve left it, there’s nothing more that can really come out.

“We just want to build and move forward as a side and as a captain, that’s a good place to be.”

Cook will be desperate to find some form in the shorter format of the game with his role as one-day captain still under scrutiny.

England were convincingly beaten by India last time out and the likes of Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann have been vocal in their belief that Cook should step aside.

“Didn’t Michael Vaughan want me out as Test captain as well?” said Cook “That was about a week before and he actually had to admit he was wrong then as well. We’ve got a great opportunity as a side to put in some good performances and it would be great if people changed their tunes in five months’ time.

“Do I have the tactical nous? Without a doubt. I think the only time England have been No 1 in the world in one-day cricket was when I was captain.”

Cook is not the only senior player to have struggled for runs over the past 12 months, with England winning just once in their last five ODI series.

Many believe the team is not aggressive enough and score too slowly at the top of the order but Cook believes the emphasis should be more on individual performances.

“We haven’t won over the last couple of series so we do have to improve but it’s not about a radical change of method,” said Cook. “I’ve been light on runs at the top of the order for 12 months but there were times before that when I scored heavily at the top of the order and we scored really good totals.

“It’s about every player playing at the peak of their potential and then we have a really good chance at the World Cup. You talk about strategy but for me it’s about individuals playing as well as we can.

“If we can peak at the right time for the World Cup, we’ve got a really good chance and I don’t think anyone will want to play us.”

One of those batsmen who can make a real difference to the side is Ian Bell, and he has backed his captain to lead the side to glory.

Bell insists Cook has all the weapons needed to succeed in one-day cricket and claims criticism has been “over the top”.

Cook’s poor run of form has seen him score just one half-century in his last eight ODI matches, but Bell is adamant his captain is the right man for the job.

“He can adjust his game for one-day cricket, absolutely, he has proven that already,” said Bell.

“It is a little bit over the top, all of the criticism. He is the leading run scorer, certainly in terms of scoring hundreds for England, so he can play at this level.

“He wants to go out and play positively and he doesn’t want to just survive.

“He will be trying as hard as anyone to get us off to a good start and if he gets big scores at the top of the order then we will be in a good place.”