The Ashes 2010-11 December 31, 2010

We won because I quit captaincy - Pietersen

ESPNcricinfo staff

Kevin Pietersen is adamant that England's Ashes success in Australia stems back to his ultimatum with Peter Moores, the former coach, at the beginning of 2009 which led to both men losing their jobs. Pietersen's captaincy stint ended after just three Tests when the relationship with Moores fell apart following the tour of India as England were plunged into crisis.

From the wreckage of those days, however, the team have hit new heights including success in the 2009 Ashes, winning the World Twenty20 and now the retention of the urn with an innings-and-157-run thrashing of Australia in Melbourne. Pietersen has now insisted those moments of glory wouldn't have been possible without the stand he took.

"You know what - I have never said this before - I lost the captaincy, I got rid of the captaincy for the good of English cricket, and we would not be here today if I had not done what I did then," Pietersen said. "There is no way in this world that we would have succeeded under that regime and would have won the Ashes again in Australia after 24 years. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower need all the plaudits for an unbelievable 18 months and an unbelievable preparation for this team, and they are the right leadership for this team."

The Strauss-Flower axis has been heaped with praise, both before and during this Ashes series, for bringing unity, calmness and belief to the England set up having assumed their partnership with the team at one of their lowest ebbs.

Strauss was close to the England captaincy for the 2006-07 Ashes tour when Michael Vaughan was injured but Andrew Flintoff was preferred. His career then nosedived and he was omitted in late 2007 but is now forging a legacy that will leave him remembered as one England's finest captains.

"Straussy is a solid bloke and character, a simple person who does things systematically and does things very well for everyone else," Pietersen said. "He looks after himself after he has looked after everyone else which is a great quality of a great captain. What he has achieved has not been achieved for 24 years and I have always had utmost respect for Straussy.

"When he gave me the phone call and said 'the ECB want me to captain are you OK with that?' I said go for it, Straussy, you're a top man. I said I'm a good mate of yours, go for it, do whatever you need to, and I've been proved right. It was a good decision by the ECB."

For Pietersen, the Ashes series has marked a return to somewhere near his best form with the highlight being a career-best 227 at Adelaide. It was his first international hundred since March 2009 and just his second in any cricket during that period. Bringing Pietersen back into the fold has been one of key successes for Strauss and Flower and he appears a contented player once again.

"They are very good at keeping us level headed and grounded and solid," he said. "Sure we will celebrate this win for a day or so and then we will talk about Sydney and trying to win this series 3-1. It's the best feeling in my career, nothing beats this. As an Englishman, winning in England in 2005 was amazing after it had not been done for a certain amount of years, but people always talked about the fact that when you go to Australia it is a different kettle of fish and last time we came here we got hammered.

"This time we have come here knowing the preparation has been right, knowing what to expect from the crowds, from the public in the street, people in hotels and taxi drivers to players out in the middle. We were told to beware of this and we knew what to expect. We always thought we would do a lot better than last time, I was confident of that and that has proved right."