Andrew Strauss was pleased with England's tour of Bangladesh, mainly because of Kevin Pietersen's return to form and Alastair Cook's performance as stand-in captain.
Pietersen had struggled for runs since recovering from an Achilles injury, scoring just 177 runs in four Tests at an average of 25 on the tour of South Africa.
But Pietersen arrested his slump with 99 in the first Test against Bangladesh and unbeaten 74 in the second to show a timely return to form, and he will hope to cash in against the Tigers again and Pakistan ahead of the Ashes this winter.
"He was always going to come back into form sooner rather than later. He is an absolute class player and is our best player by a distance," said Strauss.
"People were getting on his case but I knew it was only a matter of time. It was good from his perspective and it sets him up really well. The way he was playing at the end though shows he is back to his best.
"Looking forward to the Ashes you need probably five out of your top six batsmen to be in really top nick and someone like KP has the ability to take the game away from the opposition.
"He is going to be crucial to our chances - but you only win an Ashes series if the whole team does its job so we won't be pinning all our hopes on him."
Strauss also praised Cook's performance as stand-in captain in Bangladesh and backed him as a future full-time captain, although he is not ready to let him take over just yet.
"I have been captain for just over 12 months and I look to this next Ashes and beyond this Ashes," Strauss added. "I have got no plans to give up the game of cricket in the near future that is for sure. There are still a few years left.
"No-one knows how long I am going to go on, no-one knows what the state of the England team is going to be like when I finish up so to nail him down as my successor would be wrong.
"What I would say is that he is one of the guys who we have identified as having the potential to do the job and one thing that was lacking for him was captaining sides.
"He has long been earmarked as a potential captain because he is a very grounded individual. He works hard, he does everything right and he is very well respected within the group for doing that.
"We have got Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen in there and Cooky has had a go and sometimes you are looking for ideas. The more people that are thinking as a captain rather than thinking about their own game is healthy for me and for the team as an entity."
Strauss is convinced his decision to miss the Bangladesh tour will stand his form and England in good stead when the Ashes and then the World Cup come around.
"We have some really important cricket coming up. The Ashes is a huge series for us and the World Cup is a huge one-day series for us. We need to be peaking there," said Strauss.
"I can understand the argument that the captain should be there all the time but I still think it has been the right decision in the long-term interests of the England side.
"The break has done its job. I feel refreshed and ready to go. I am chomping at the bit now, I can't wait to get out there and play."