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The Ashes: Andrew Strauss believes Kevin Pietersen will deliver for England this summer

Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss batting together during their England days

Former England captain Andrew Strauss has backed Kevin Pietersen to rise to the occasion of a home Ashes series and restore his reputation amongst the British public.

Strauss' retirement last summer came amid a high-profile blow-up with Pietersen regarding text messages sent to opposition South African players.

As a three-time urn winner as a player and a two-time victor as a captain, Strauss knows better than most about the pressures of facing the Baggy Green, as well as the complexities of leading individuals such as Pietersen.

On the flip side, though, Strauss has seen Pietersen's brilliance at close quarters, having shared a field with him for the majority of his 22 Test hundreds.

The first of those came in the 2005 Ashes victory as he clubbed a brilliant 158 in the final Test to regain the urn for England.

And that, according to Strauss, demonstrates just how dangerous a player the South Africa-born batsman can be, citing the pressure of the Ashes as something which motivates him.

Problems

"He knows as well as anyone that reputations can be forged and destroyed in those seven weeks," Strauss wrote in the Sunday Times.

"Alongside his outrageous innings at The Oval in 2005, his performances in Adelaide in 2006 and 2010 stand out. In Ashes Tests he averages 52.7 - more than three runs better than his overall average.

"If England find themselves seeking inspiration this summer, expect him to deliver."

Pietersen returned to the England side in all forms of the game last winter in India, suggesting a new approach after the problems which had blighted his relationship with Strauss, who believes his former team-mates interest in the Indian Premier League was at the root of all the problems.

Lord's was the venue for one of the great Ashes innings in recent times as Andrew Strauss made 161* in 2009.

"His 'falling out' with the team in the South Africa series was brought about by his interest in the IPL, a tournament tailor-made for his talents and personality, and by him losing his love for the England cricketing environment," Strauss said.

"He has never been one to bottle things up. That he lashed out, by sending text messages to to the opposition, and by distancing himself from his team-mates, is something that he probably regrets.

"Important lessons have been learnt over the past 12 months, by Pietersen, the ECB and his team-mates. It is to his great credit, as well as the rest of the team, that they have been able to move forward from the trials of last summer so adeptly.

"A fully fit, motivated and focused Kevin Pietersen is an immense asset to any side. If he intends to prove his commitment to English cricket over the next six months, then Australia had better look out."

Who will score the most runs in the first Test?

  • Michael Clarke
  • Alastair Cook
  • Shane Watson
  • Joe Root
  • Kevin Pietersen

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