We are a much more cohesive unit with Kevin Pietersen, says James Anderson

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Anderson has left his issues with Pietersen in the past

England pace bowler James Anderson has announced that the national team are a much more cohesive and threatening unit with batsman Kevin Pietersen.

Anderson described Pietersen as “an extraordinary player” who was a “vital” part of the England dressing room.

Anderson has had issues with Pietersen in the past, especially last summer when the South African-born batsman was exiled from the Test team for sending derogatory text messages about former captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower to South African players, who were touring England at the time.

The pace bowler was infuriated with Pietersen’s backstabbing behaviour and was very critical of his actions.

However, Anderson revealed that whatever issues he and Pietersen had have been left in the past and the team’s focus is now directed towards the ongoing 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 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.”

Coming back to the series against South Africa last summer, Anderson admitted that England put up a less than impressive performance, especially with the number one Test team ranking up for grabs.

“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 also conceded that Australia captain Michael Clarke posed the biggest threat to England’s Ashes campaign, but added that he believed Jonathan Trott was a better batsman than Clarke.

Both Clarke and Trott have scored two centuries and three half-centuries in their last 10 Test innings and have an average over 50.

However, Clarke seems to have the upper hand as he scored two back-to-back double hundreds against South Africa in December last year, while Trott failed to register a single century against the Proteas last summer.

“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.”

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