Andrew Strauss believes England would be capable of winning without Kevin Pietersen but sees him as an automatic selection.
In an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport, the former England captain spoke of the Surrey batsman’s importance to the hosts going into this summer’s Ashes series, which begins at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
"I think if Pietersen is fit and healthy then yes, he is an automatic selection for the Ashes," he said.
"But, nobody will want him there if he's not fit, least of all the man himself, so we will see how it goes. England have never been a one-man team and I don't think they are incapable of winning without him."
Pietersen was dropped from the team during the test series against South Africa last summer for disciplinary issues.
The main reason for his exclusion from the team included his alleged use of bad language to describe Strauss in text messages sent to South African players - but this has not changed the former Middlesex player’s view on his former teammate.
Damien Martyn, who made 67 appearances for Australia, shares Strauss’ sentiments.
He said in an interview with BBC Sport: "Pietersen's got that X-factor. He hasn't played much cricket but he's like Shane Warne - he loves the big moments and Ashes series."
Pietersen will be playing in his fifth Ashes series this time around - having made his test debut against the Aussies in the 2005 series at Lord’s - and went on to score 158 against them at the Oval to help secure England’s first Ashes win in 18 years.
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