Giles: Pietersen absence not key to defeat

Ashley Giles is adamant Kevin Pietersen's injury-enforced absence was not the missing ingredient which cost England the Champions Trophy.

Kevin Pietersen

Giles will be delighted to welcome a fit-again Pietersen back into his team on Thursday for the second of two Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand at The Oval.

There was an uncomfortable irony that, as England were falling agonisingly short again in a one-day international final, Pietersen was emphatically confirming his well-being with a destructive 177 not out on his comeback for Surrey at Headingley.

Pietersen, out of cricket since March with bone bruising behind his right knee, made a statement of intent in his first innings for more than three months.

How England could have done with one of his dominant innings, it seemed, as they chased 129 for seven against India at Edgbaston and came up five runs short after appearing to be set for victory.

Instead, their wait for an ODI trophy extends to 17 failed attempts and will have lasted almost 40 years by the time of the next World Cup in Australia in early 2015.

Giles needs no prompting to acknowledge the world-class talents of Pietersen, set to be a key part of England's plans this summer and next winter in the Test format too in back-to-back Ashes series - starting in Nottingham next month.

But he points out too that Joe Root, the up-and-coming batsman who has filled Pietersen's role in England's 50-over top four this year, has already demonstrated beyond doubt that he is a player for the future.

"Of course, if Kevin is available then I've said time and again he is a world-class player - and he can win us games of cricket.

"But there are other guys in the side who can do that too."

The suggestion that Pietersen's absence was the single and simple difference between winning and losing again does not sit easily with the coach.

"That would be wrong to say, because Joe Root probably replaced Kevin in the squad - and he's magnificent.

"He takes to everything he throws his hands at and shows extreme maturity in everything he does.

"He bats, he bowls and he's enthusiastic in the field.

"He went out to bat and had a big grin on his face as he put his helmet and gloves on.

"That is what you want, so he's a guy who can take us forward."

Root, and many other familiar faces who will soon be turning their attention to the Ashes, will be missing from England's two matches against the Kiwis this week.

Giles, however, is looking forward to the next challenge in England's hectic summer.

"We've got T20s this week, and Kev comes in for the second game," he said.

"It is a new-look squad in some ways, with the Test boys out, so that is exciting."

Giles' first task will be to quickly set aside Champions Trophy disappointment, and then start planning not just for the most immediate assignments but next year's World Twenty20 and then that World Cup beyond.

"We have to dust ourselves down and go again, but this group is a good group - and they've got some time in them to go forward," he said, specifically of those beaten by India yesterday.

"It is not as though they are all at an age where they are falling off the ladder.

"I'm pleased with everything they've done, and we have to move on.

"You give guys a right and proper chance in my eyes - and because you lose a game of cricket, even if it is a final, you don't chop and change.

"You don't just discard people. We've got a good group here - they work hard, they get on well and work for each other.

"Not everyone was going to have a great Champions Trophy. Some guys have done better than others, but you'll always go forward.

"You can tweak squads as you move forward. But I don't see why the majority of this squad wouldn't play a part in the future, and it is quite exciting for me as a coach because it is a good group of players

"I believe this group of players can not only get there, but can make an impact there."

England may be serial offenders when it comes to losing finals, but Giles is convinced they are far from pre-determined to do so.

"I don't think so," he added.

"In the dressing room, the team were all confident and eager.

"Whatever happened, they wanted to get out there. They were talking about playing and winning, and nothing else.

"That was the attitude, and it was fantastic.

"Some days it just doesn't happen.

"It is easy to look at things and say we choked again, but that is definitely not what this team is about."



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