'I got rid of captaincy for the good of English cricket'
England's Kevin Pietersen believes the rebellion that led to him losing the captaincy two years ago had been vindicated by the Ashes triumph in Australia.
England retained the famous urn with an innings and 157-run triumph in Melbourne on Wednesday to go into next week's final Test in Sydney with an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series.
Pietersen said the captain-and-coach partnership of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower that replaced Pietersen and Peter Moores in early 2009 had played a key role in producing that triumph.
"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 told British newspapers after the Melbourne victory.
Image: Keven Pietersen plays with the ball ahead of the first Ashes Test
'Strauss and Flower need all the plaudits'
"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."
Pietersen paid tribute to Strauss's selflessness, which he said made him an ideal captain.
"He looks after himself after he has looked after everyone else which is a great quality of a great captain," he added.
Image: Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower
'I said 'Go for it, Straussy, you're a top man' '
Pietersen slammed Moores in a report to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after a tour of India in late 2008 and the ECB reacted by sacking both captain and coach in early 2009, offering the skipper's job to Strauss.
"When he gave me the phone call and said: 'The ECB want me to captain; are you OK with that?'," Pietersen recalled.
"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."
Image: Pietersen and Peter Moores
'It's the best feeling in my career'
Pietersen was England's best batsmen on the 2006-07 tour of Australia but still shared the ignominy of the 5-0 whitewash -- a bitter experience that made this year's triumph all the sweeter.
"It's the best feeling in my career, nothing beats this," the 30-year-old said.
"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 the 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."
Image: Pietersen after scoring a fifty on the second day of the MCG Test
A difference in the approach of the Australian public
Pietersen said he had noticed a difference in the approach of the Australian public on this tour.
"We felt that respect before we started the tests," he said. "The last time we came here we got hammered. As we got off the aeroplane people in hotels, taxi drivers, everybody just abused us.
"This time before the first Test, we were talking about it among ourselves, we were saying: 'No one is abusing us here, this can't be a bad thing.' Australia's confidence was down."
The fifth and final Test starts in Sydney on Monday.
Image: The crowd cheers after Alastair Cook scores a hundred at Adelaide