hout Kevin Pietersen, and it was intriguing to hear Lords kommandant Andrew Strauss claim a problem childs exlusion had brought “clarity” to the classroom. There is no point in banging on about England bringing back Pietersen against Pakistan on the Arabian peninsula next month. It isnt going to happen. But its a bit rich for director of cricket Strauss to claim England won the Ashes partly because there were no tall poppies from South Africa obscuring his vision of team culture. In pictures - England win the Ashes: England win the Ashes 2015View gallery And England have not “moved on” this summer as a result of their refusal to admit Pietersen to the funfair. Alastair Cook joined W.G. Grace and Mike Brearley as a two-time Ashes winner at home despite his batsmen enduring a poor series collectively. England won because Cooks seam bowlers used the Duke ball perfectly in pronounced English conditions, and the Australians batted with breathtaking inadequacy of technique, at both Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. They did not win because KP was left out - and in all likelihood the result would have been no different if he had played. So the anti-Pietersen brigade can spare us the hindsight about unity, culture and trust. To paraphrase former US president Bill Clinton: It was the bowlers, stupid. No different: Pietersen would not have changed things for England (Image: Iain Lewis Photography Ltd.) Lets remove blinkers, leave prejudices at the door, assume the position and be honest. Since clarity begins at home, as the saying goes, here are 10 things we learned from the 2015 Ashes: Its always nice to beat Australia, especially after most forecasts for this summer pointed towards belts off, trousers down and feeling the swish of the headmasters cane. Top marks to Sir Ian Botham and Freddie Flintoff, who led the fringe minority backing a home win. Lets hear it for Brad Haddin, the latest Aussie to announce his retirement from international cricket. If he had not dropped Joe Root second ball in Cardiff, England would have been 43-4 on the first morning of the series. Roots 134 did not
just stem a hemorrhage of English confidence – it turned the tide. Think you just dropped the Ashes there, Brad. Any suggestion that Englands batsmen filled their boots is a fallacy. Root was the only one to make a century, while Cook was the only other player in the top seven to average more than 30 in the series. Weak point: Adam Lyth struggled at the crease
for England (Image: Getty) Gary Ballance played with such freedom of clarity that he was dropped after two matches, trapped on the crease as if his feet were immersed in quick-drying cement as New Zealands Trent Boult and the Aussies Mitchell brothers, Grant and Phil, set about him. He will be back when there is more clarity about his method against lef
t-arm pace bowlers. Neither Adam Lyth (top score 37 in the series) nor five-times Ashes winner Ian Bell (three fifties but little else) batted with much clarity of expression, although Bells twin half-centuries on his home ground probably spared a class act the same fate as Ballance. Englands bowlers, on the other hand, were magnificent. They hunted as a pack in Cardiff, Stuart Broads blitz of 8-15 at Trent Bridge was simply mind-boggling, Steve Finns six-wicket comeback at Birmingham was heartwarming, Ben Stokes Ashes-clinching six-pack was deserved and Jimmy Anderson led the attack with the authority of a lion king before his series was curtailed by injury. Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will start in8CancelPlay now Cook captained the side with intuition and he set fields funkier than Motown. If Englands plans had the fingerprints of new coach Trevor Bayliss all over them, good for Cook that he executed them so well. Home advantage is king in Ashes cricket. Australia have not won a series in England since 2001, while Strauss remains the only England captain to lift the urn Down Under in seven expeditions to the old penal colony. It was a strange old series. England were absolutely annihilated at Lords, dreadful at The Oval and inspired elsewhere. Did we learn much about unity? Nope – but when Cooks team seized their chances, they did so spectacularly. Strauss was right to sack Peter Moores and replace him with Bayliss – a shrewd appointment demonstrating, dare we say it, strategic clarity. Would Pietersen have made a difference to any of the above? Probably not. But as England search for middle-order stability to sustain them during away series against Pakistan and South
Africa, plus the Twenty20 World Cup in India, it is time for Strauss to end the absurd pretence among Lords power-brokers that KP has ceased to exist. At the very least, Pietersen is owed a public apology from the England Wales Cricket Board after they treated him disgracefully at the start of this summer by leading him up the garden path about his prospects of a Test comeback. So much for issues of trust. Apology: Pietersen needs an apology for the way he was treated (Image: Getty) There are testing times ahead in the United Arab Emirates and on pace-friendly surfaces in Cape hinterlands. Cook is looking for his 10th opening partner in Tests, Moeen Ali needs Adil Rashid to step up as his sidekick on the spinners front line, jaded Jos Buttler needs to rediscover his mojo and England cannot rely on Root alone for daddy hundreds in the middle order. Strauss told the Soccerex conference: “What I was trying to do was to provide clarity going forward, so everyone knew where they stood and that could allow the players to concentrate on what was going on out in the middle. I think that clarity has helped, to be honest, but its up to the players to go out and perform.” For a team to realise its potential, player
s need to feel confident in their ability and at ease in the dressing room. No arguments with Lord Brocket there. But Strauss did not invent these basic precepts when he blackballed Pietersen in May – they already existed in every village cricket team. In pictures - England vs Australia fourth ODI: England v Australia: Fourth ODIView gallery This observer remains part of the hung jury on clarity, trust, unity and all the other abstract, middle-management claptrap used to justify excommunication of a proven entertainer. It is still a mystery how one player can be disciplined, deservedly, for sending opponents uncomplimentary messages about his captain, and then sacked on the altar of everyone pulling in the same direction – but a spoof Twitter account mocking the same player, undermining the same captains sacrosanct unity ethos, can be summarily dismissed. And when the Twenty20 world cup comes round in six months - in a country where Pietersen has a decent track record in every form of cricket - England must fancy their chances of winning the tournament if they can write off a player who will spend this winter playing Twenty20 franchise cricket for the Dolphins in Durban and the Melbourne Stars. Now that England are finally flexing their muscles in white-ball cricket, and not before time, there is no immediate rush to bring back Pietersen. But his Surrey team-mate Kumar Sangakkara is still knocking out brisk hundreds at a ripe age. Dont write off the old stagers when they still give crowds more bang for their buck.