Strauss backs `big ego` Pietersen for successful English Ashes prospects

Sydney: Former England captain Andrew Strauss has said that it is important for England to have star batsman Kevin Pietersen fully fit for a successful Ashes series, even though he has a big ego. Pietersen is currently sidelined with a knee problem and in his absence England struggled to 232 all out in the first innings of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord`s.

According to Strauss, Pietersen is the best player he has ever played with in terms of talent and the ability to take the game away from the opposition, although he admitted the batsman has a big ego and likes to be the centre of attention, which always rubs some people up the wrong way.

However, Strauss said that apart from these personal issues, Pietersen is very easy to manage most of the time as he works very hard and is quite professional, adding that such characteristics are one of the challenges of being a captain- bringing a disparate group of people together and making sure they all have a common purpose.

The former opening batsman, who is set to join five other former England captains in the commentary box for the Ashes, further said that Pietersen had showed in last year`s Tests against India how much he can change the tempo, adding that the side is missing him badly in the Tests against New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Strauss said that an England team now captained by his former opening partner Alastair Cook will have their work cut out against Australia`s pacemen as Australia has a very good bowling attack.

However, three-time Ashes winner Strauss, who led England to a 3-1 series victory the last time cricket`s oldest rivals met in Australia in 2010/11, said that Australia`s weakest area is their batting, adding that there are a number of left-handers in the team and some of the players have not played much in England before.

According to Strauss, English off-spinner Graeme Swann will be anticipating the possibility of playing these guys on turning wickets, adding that the series will be very closely contested like all the other Ashes games.