The Investec Ashes 2013 July 6, 2013

'England better with Pietersen' - Anderson


James Anderson has praised Kevin Pietersen as "an extraordinary player" and a "vital" part of the England dressing room.

At the height of the unrest in the England dressing room in 2012, Anderson was believed to be one of those opposed to the manner in which Pietersen conducted himself. While there was never any doubting Pietersen's ability with the bat - he scored a century of rare class and skill in the Headingley Test before England dropped him - there had been persistent murmurs of discontent behind the scenes and the suggestion that the disruption he caused within the team compromised his worth as a batsman.

But whatever issues there may have been, Anderson confirmed they have been consigned to the past and provided an unmitigated show of team unity as England head into the Investec Ashes series.

"We're definitely a better team for Kevin's inclusion," Anderson said. "He's just an extraordinary player. There's not really any down side at the minute.

"We saw it this week in the match at Chelmsford. I know he only got 49, but it just seemed far too easy for him. He seemed in great form. An in-form Kevin Pietersen is vital to our team going forward.

"We had a really good week at Essex. The dressing room was relaxed when it could be and switched on when it needed to be. On the field I thought we were very professional. But generally there is a really relaxed feel in the camp and real excitement of what is about to come."

Perhaps due to issues in the dressing room, England failed to do themselves justice in the key series against South Africa last year. That manifested itself, among other things, with some poor catching in the slips. They were errors which were severely punished by South Africa's batsmen.

While Anderson accepted that England had produced a disappointing display against South Africa and, more recently, in New Zealand, he hoped that such memories would spur them on to do better this year.

"I don't think we played as well as we could have done against South Africa," Anderson said. "Actually, we didn't play anywhere near to the level that we know we can. If you do that against the top team in the world then you're going to struggle. And we struggled.

"We're aware of what that slip in form did to our standing in the rankings and that's something we're going to try and put right. We showed determination when we got there a couple of years ago, a lot of determination, hard work and a lot of skill and quality, and that's what we're trying to get back to is get our standards back up to where we know we can get them. And I think we've come a long way in doing that the last 12 months.

"Slip catching has not really been an issue for us. We are generally pretty good there. It might just have been one of those series where we were not quite on the ball. We've tried to constantly improve. We had a great result in India and a good result at home against New Zealand, so we feel like we're in good shape."

Anderson agreed that Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, was a daunting opponent, but suggested that Jonathan Trott, not Clarke, was currently the world's leading batsman in Test cricket. Both men have scored two centuries and three half-centuries in their last 10 Test innings and both have Test averages in excess of 50. Clarke, however, scored successive double-centuries against South Africa in 2012, while Trott failed to register a century in England's series against the same opposition.

"Clarke is right up there among the best," Anderson said. "He's been in great form and scored lots of hundreds over the last year. But the best in the world? That's a bit harsh on Jonathan Trott. I'd say Trotty is at the minute.

"But Shane Watson is as good an opening batter as I've bowled at in international cricket and Chris Rogers is an extremely experienced cricketer. So we'll have to try and figure out some plans to and execute them well. If we don't play well there's a very good chance we'll lose."

Hundreds of local cricket clubs will #RISE for England by holding open days over the five Investec Ashes series weekends. Find out about your local club and their event at

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on July 8, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    @ SamRoy. I'm very interested in finding out more about your observation that "ABD's keeping against spinners on turning tracks borders on the atrocious." I'd like to look at some of that on video. Could you please list some matches in which this can be seen. Specific matches on turning tracks, of course, is what I'm looking for, as I have not seen footage of him keeping on turning tracks. Looking forward to hearing from you, & thanks in advance for the info.

  • David on July 8, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    @ jackiethepen. RE defense: a different perspective. Stats of 5 of the top batsmen since July 2010. (Min 25 inns: excludes those in games vs Bang & Zim - Sanga, Samuels, Chanders, Misbah, Pujara. Too much calculating for 1 post!)

    Averages: Amla 66.72. de Villiers 65.55. Kallis 62.56. Cook 57.36. Clarke 53.70. Now, who do you think is the most defensive of these batsmen? Probably Kallis, the old, dour, slow, defensive accumulator.

    Strike Rates: Clarke 59.6. Amla 59.36. ABdV 59.05. Kallis 57.26. Cook 46.79.

    Kallis is up there with the fastest! He also scored the most centuries per innings, 1 per 4.11. Surprise - he hit the MOST 6s OF ALL: 23 in 37 inngs. AB, 20 in 37, Clarke 16 in 57, etc. Whoa - old JK the six hitter?

    Kallis, known for dogged, defensive, match saving innings, is an attacking batsman too. As you wrote, "When the bowling is on top ... stay in ... then ... counter attack," or, wear down the attack, then attack them!

    P.S. The fastest test 50? Kallis (vs Zim)

  • Android on July 8, 2013, 18:58 GMT

    england best bastman pietersen

  • David on July 8, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    @ jackiethepen. You are one of the very few I have seen identify defense as critical to test cricket. You wrote "The talk is all about attack ... Australia lost in India 4-0 because they didn't know how to bat defensively ... When the bowling is on top for a period you need to know how to stay in. Once you've done that, then you can open up and counter attack."

    Aus were in the other position vs SA last year. For 2 tests Aus attacked brilliantly - Clarke was magnificent! Aus could have won the 1st, should have won the 2nd, but SA's defense held. 2nd test, 4th innings, ABdV's SR was 15 for 220 balls! Kallis, injured, played 110 balls. Aus dominated, but SA did not lose. In the 3rd test, after SA counter attacked, Aus faced a huge 4th inngs ask. Only Cowan defended, lasting 149 balls. Next best was 52. Warner: 34 balls, SR of 85.29! That's not defense. (Aus fans - no insult intended. Eng did the same to SA & drew in 09/10.)

    Test series are like war. Think of WWII, & Eng's defense!

  • Sharky on July 8, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen was part of the England team that won the Ashes for the first time since a decade or more. The last few Ashes that England has won, Kevin Pietersen was part of the recipe. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were also the blokes that brought back the more attacking and more confident Ian Botham style England player back to the scene. The toughie. Although I don't like Kevin Pietersen and his attitude very much, I still do agree that he is a very good cricketer and he is very needed in the England setup. The South Africans played the mental-game a 100% and they were very good at it. The way they played Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and the other players against each other, were brilliant. They needed that turmoil in the English camp to held the mental grip. Welcome back K.P.

  • Android on July 8, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    indian bowler zaheer khan is better dan Anderson

  • Jackie on July 8, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    A lot of football fans on here by the sound of it. The talk is all about attack. But Ian Chappell said that Australia lost in India 4-0 because they didn't know how to bat defensively. This is Test cricket. When the bowling is on top for a period you need to know how to stay in. Once you've done that, then you can open up and counter attack. Let's put it like this. If you only know how to attack then you have fewer strokes at the wicket. You can't predict whether that wicket is going to help the batsmen or the bowlers - and it will change over five days. There is an awful lot of thinking going on it Test cricket. If you only play aggressively then you will be worked over by bowlers on a helpful wicket. That is why in a good team you have a mixture of types of batsmen. They are all there to play to their strengths. You have to have skill to survive against a spell of good bowling. Even the football fans must know that a team without a good defence is likely to lose.

  • sam on July 8, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    @Milhouse79 Prior is definitely the best keeper/bat in the world in test cricket. ABD's keeping against spinners on turning tracks borders on the atrocious. MSD's keeping is actually safe if he doesn't have injuries. He always seems to have the odd injury because no one in world cricket plays 80% as much as he does. Anyway, MSD is not a good batsman on bouncy pitches, if there is a little bit of movement in them because of his bottom hand technique and his tendency to go at the ball with hard hands. But if you compare overall cricketer except for those bouncy pitches (in SA, Australia, Barbados, Jamaica and Trent Bridge and sometimes Oval) I will pick Dhoni over Prior every time. Reason he is the most destructive wk batsman since Adam Gilchrist and can turn a game on its head anytime.

  • Android on July 8, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    All criticism (even constructive) aside re Aus teams woes and challenges, its great to see England being so polished and diligent in their preparations. A well balanced side, players in form, a good age mix in the team (something the Aussies need to start to learn from), and as this article shows, team unity (even if just formally) to present a strong front to the opposition. No one will (or should) argue that Eng clearly have the superior side in this series, but its great to see their professional approach and lack of complacency. They definately set the benchmark on that front.

  • Vincent on July 8, 2013, 2:10 GMT

    Peitersen always fails when the going gets tough. He will fail against Australia yet again.