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England v South Africa 4th Test

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen won champagne for his man of the match and series awards

New skipper Kevin Pietersen believes England can regain the Ashes if they play with the spirit they showed in the win over South Africa at The Oval.

England had already lost the series but fought back to win the final Test by six wickets in Pietersen's first match in charge of the five-day side.

"It's been a great few days and a great few days for the side.

"If we play like we did this week we can beat Australia. The key is to play like we did here every game," he said.

"I have done a lot of thinking over the last few days. You do find yourself thinking about the game more and different scenarios.

"I have certainly done some thinking about Australia next year, a lot more than I would have when I was a player.

"Because you want to get the structure right, so guys can play in certain positions, feel comfortable, know their role and deliver.

"It will be important over the next nine months to learn their roles and then deliver.

"My main driving force for this team is to be, every single day, up for the challenge of improving, having no comfort zones and testing the guys out to perform every single day.

"One area we will need to improve on is our batting, that is an area of concern and something we need to do."

Pietersen was encouraged by his team's performance at The Oval, but admitted England lost their way in the series, having made the South Africans follow-on in the first Test at Lord's.

"At Lord's we had the upper hand and then South Africa drummed it into us for the next seven or eight days at Headingley and Edgbaston," he said.

On the subject of Steve Harmison, who made a successful return to the side with two wickets in each innings as well as a Test-best 49, Pietersen added: "The big man had a fantastic game - I would rather have seen him get man of the match."

The captain added that the five-man bowling attack was something he would like to continue.

There's no better sight than a quick bowler bowling well. He was in the right areas, aggressive and all credit to him for the work he has put in

Peter Moores on Steve Harmison

"It was a positive, aggressive move. With sides like South Africa, and with Australia here next year it's definitely the way me and (coach Peter) Mooresey want to play our cricket," he said.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur named Pietersen as England's man of the series and was quick to pay tribute to the Hampshire batsman.

"He was the one England batsman capable of changing the course of a match," Arthur said.

England coach Peter Moores was full of praise for the way Pietersen handled his first match as Test skipper.

"A new captain brings energy but there are no guarantees of a win," he said. "All credit to Kevin, he led very well but also led from the front by a fantastic hundred, kept things simple and the boys responded to that."

Asked about Pietersen's decision not to employ the pre-match huddle favoured by former skipper Michael Vaughan, Moores added: "We talk in the dressing room before, Kevin has his say and they come out and do the business.

"It's nice to have your own original thought on what you think is right, and it moves forward."

Jonathan Agnew

Moores was delighted with the form of his bowlers, praising James Anderson, who finished joint-top of the wicket-takers in the series with South African Morne Morkel.

"He's always had great skill but he's picking the right options and showing consistency. He's proved he can bowl when it doesn't swing, he can create pressure and bowl well within the unit," the coach said.

On Harmison he said: "There's no better sight than a quick bowler bowling well. He was in the right areas, aggressive and all credit to him for the work he has put in.

"We want players to play but he said he was emotionally and physically drained so it's fair enough not to ask a bloke to drive across the country to start a game tomorrow morning and do 11 days on the bounce."

see also
South Africa in England in 2008
02 Aug 08 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
12 Aug 08 |  Cricket
England need to move forward
12 Aug 08 |  England
Graham Gooch's England ratings
11 Jul 08 |  Cricket

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