England batsman Ian Bell has praised teammate Kevin Pietersen ahead of the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street.
33-year-old Pietersen, who was the subject of the latest DRS-related controversy during England's second innings in the third Test at Old Trafford, has hit the headlines again this week after reacting furiously to apparently scurrilous accusations that he has been applying silicone tape to his bat in an attempt to prevent edges registering on Hot Spot.
And as England reportedly demand an apology and an explanation from the Australian TV channel responsible for the claims, Bell has had nothing but positive words for his batting counterpart.
"The biggest thing to come out of that match was the performance of Kevin Pietersen," he said in a column featured in The Independent. "I've known Kev a long time.
"It probably wasn't until about 2005 that I realised he was a special player. He had played some great limited-overs innings, but he came into the Test side at pretty much the same time as me, he produced the goods under pressure against a great attack and he kept on playing the same way.
"His innings in the final Test at The Oval to ensure we won the Ashes that summer remains among the best I've seen. Actually, he's played a fair few of the greatest innings I've seen.
"He is, without doubt, one of the best I've played with and one of those very rare batsmen who can change a game in two or three hours."
Despite being the weaker of the two sides at Old Trafford, England will head to Durham for the penultimate Test with the pressure off after a draw was enough for them to retain the famous urn.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) will be hoping to avoid further controversy around the decision review system, with the series so far having been plagued with discontent and appalling decisions.
"Sadly, the series has been overshadowed a bit by the DRS issues. As players, we have a great deal of respect and sympathy for the on-field umpires. We understand what a tough job they have and that they, just like us, will make mistakes," he added.
"The problem comes when the TV umpire makes mistakes. Once you have access to the replays and all the technology, our expectation is that the decision will be right. That hasn't happened and has left us confused. Hot Spot just hasn't worked on a few occasions.
"The meetings over what has gone wrong and what we can do about it have already started. As players we have to remain above that and not let it distract us. But it has created confusion and it is an issue that requires resolution."
The ICC's director of cricket operations is reportedly set to hold talks with coaches Andy Flower and Darren Lehmann in an attempt to allay fears over further inconsistencies.
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