Jack Bannister assesses the Bears pair's contribution to a triumph...

Runs and wickets in the book are all that matter in international cricket - except once in a thousand times such as the epic Ashes series this summer when the statistical returns of Warwickshire cricketers Ashley Giles and Ian Bell prove that a team can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Only the second pair of Warwickshire cricketers to play together in all five matches of an Ashes series (see below for the answer which is not Frank Foster and "Tiger" Smith), Giles and Bell finished bottom of the averages for specialist bowlers and batsmen but both made priceless contributions to the most exciting Ashes series in history.

Giles did himself justice with the bat at Trent Bridge and the Oval - and his total of 155 runs at 19.37 per innings was a mere 16 runs shy of England's regular No 4 Bell, whose average of 17.10 was only 50 per cent of the other specialist batsmen.

Similarly with Giles the bowler, whose ten wickets at 57.80 each was more than double that of the other England four bowlers, except for Steve Harmison whose slightly disappointing total of 17 wickets (only four in the last four Tests) cost him 32.29 apiece.

So how and why did they survive the entire distance, and was their retention justified? Giles first, because he was the biggest beneficiary of the selectors' decision to keep an unchanged side after the Lord's walloping by 239 runs.

Everyone knew that the Australian batsmen would target him, because the rest of the attack would be much less effective without him fulfilling the holding role that would enable Michael Vaughan to use his strike bowlers as just that.

Michael Clarke and Damien Martyn milked Giles mercilessly in that first Test for 56 runs from 11 overs bowled in three spells, and that could have been his series over, except for Vaughan having faith in his good friend to put his finger in the dyke at Edgbaston.

Which he did first innings with figures of 26-2-79-3, although he disappointed in the second innings with two for 69 off 15 overs. He had repaid the selectors, and did so again at Old Trafford with 31-4-100-3 - an effort that helped no end towards Simon Jones' six wickets in five spells.

Again he would be disappointed with his secondinnings wicketless return but the bonus was that the pace attack was now functioning properly.

Only when Jones The Pace went bust in the second innings at Trent Bridge did England have to struggle with four bowlers but their edgy win by three wickets owed much to Giles's unbeaten seven following a semi-collapse of the middle order, forcing his entry on "nelson", 111 for six, soon to become 116 for seven when Geraint Jones fired a complete blank.

And so to the Oval where he scored 59, his highest Test score and one which finally put the game out of reach of Australia and ensured that Kevin Pietersen's tour de force brought back the Ashes.

As for Bell, he struggled everywhere except at Old Trafford where his two fifties were publicly acknowledged and admired by Vaughan. His other eight innings included seven in single figures, including the dreaded pair in the final Test. Indifferent form often goes hand in hand with unlucky decisions - of which he certainly suffered a minimum of three.

He was dimissed two or three times by pace exposing a minor technical chink ( i.e., by Glenn McGrath at Lord's) and was always at full stretch against Shane Warne against whom he managed 56 runs from 179 balls, twirled at him at the cost of his wicket three times.

But, as the youngest member of the side - Giles is the oldest - Bell's total of eight catches were only exceeded by ten from Matthew Hayden, with half of them missable, particularly those taken at short leg.

Which is why, statistically, the runs and wickets of the Warwickshire pair might look poor but, overall, they made solid contributions towards the historic win.

And the previous Warwickshire pair to play throughout an entire Ashes series? It happened 103 years ago in Australia, thanks to Messrs Willie Quaife and "Dick" Lillee.