Sydney, Dec. 31: England middle-order batsman Kevin Pietersen has said that the foundations of the team's retention of the Ashes in Australia were laid by his messy departure as captain and in part by the sacking of then coach Peter Moores.
Pietersen's removal by the England and Wales Cricket Board in January 2009, dressed up at the time as a resignation, was a chaotic and destabilising period for the team, but paved the way for the Andrew Strauss-Andy Flower combination that has proved so successful.
"I have never said this before. I got rid of the captaincy for the good of English cricket, and we would not be here today if I had not have done what I did then. There is no way in this world that we would have continued under that regime and have won the Ashes again in Australia after 24 years," The Telegraph quoted Pietersen, as saying.
Moores responded on Thursday night by pointing out that if Pietersen's wishes had been granted in 2009, Flower, who was then a backroom member of the coaching team, would also have been sacked.
"This is an important time for England to get focused for Sydney, and I know that will be Andy Flower's priority. Nobody knows what would have happened if me and KP were still there as coach and captain, just as nobody knows what would have happened if KP had got his way and me and Andy had both been sacked," Moores said.
Pietersen described current captain Andrew Strauss as a solid bloke and character, and as a simple person who did things systematically.
"He looks 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," said Pietersen.
"When he gave me the phone call and said, "The ECB want me to captain [in 2009] 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."
Pietersen has never undermined Strauss publicly and in the background has continued to work very hard on his own game.
"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," he said.
"They are just very good at keeping us level-headed and grounded and solid. Sure we will celebrate this win and then tomorrow we will talk about Sydney and trying to win this series 3-1," he added.
"It's the best feeling in my career, nothing beats this," he said.
"This time we have come here knowing the preparation has been right, knowing what to expect from the crowds. We always thought we would do a lot better than last time, I was confident of that and that has proved right," he added.
Pietersen said: "We want to win in Sydney and take the Ashes back to the UK properly. Taking the Ashes home is the focus though, and I know the country is going nuts about this. On Twitter it has gone ballistic. It's the best thing in the world to know everyone is supporting us in England."