England's rise to the higher echelons of world cricket was recognised at the International Cricket Council player of the year awards here yesterday, with Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen picking up the main honours.
Flintoff's position as the most valuable cricketer on the planet was rubber-stamped when he shared the main award with Jacques Kallis, despite the qualification period excluding his outstanding performances in the last four Ashes Tests.
International colleague Pietersen inherited the one-day award Flintoff claimed at the inaugural awards ceremony in London last year, beating his international colleague into second place and proving the obvious choice in the emerging player category.
With Michael Vaughan absent, Flintoff - named in both Test and one-day teams of the year - also got up on stage to collect the 'spirit of cricket' award bestowed upon the Ashes winners.
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Both 27-year-old Flintoff and Kallis polled 86 votes from a 50-strong panel, including all ten Test captains, former players and international referees and umpires, who cast a 3-2-1 vote in each section.
While Flintoff no doubt proved an emotional choice as the final voting slips for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy were handed in, given his exploits in the 2-1 victory over Australia, his rival Kallis was far superior in statistical terms.
In the ten Tests Flintoff played between August 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005, he hit four half-centuries and claimed 44 wickets, a period in which he piled up 464 runs, including one hundred and accounted for 25 victims on limited- overs internationals.
The prolific Kallis, meanwhile, churned out six Test tons and averaged more than a wicket a match in 15 appearances, while also averaging 41 and proving effective with the ball in one-day action.
"I was just here for the food!" Flintoff modestly joked.
"I honestly didn't know what to expect. I thought I had a chance of sneaking into one of the teams of the year, but I wasn't expecting to receive anything.
"The Ashes has been such a rollercoaster ride of emotions during the summer that I can't remember too much before them."
However, Pietersen will not forget the precursor to England's first Test series victory over Australia since 1986-87, a baptism of fire in South Africa which included wholesale booing and his compatriots turning their collective back on him in a symbolic gesture to his maiden international hundred in Bloemfontein.
Ironically, a year ago he was snubbed by the England selectors for that tour, only initially meriting a place on the trip to Zimbabwe.
But having spent a four-year qualification period to play for the country of his mother Penny's birth, Pietersen admitted: "It is the best decision I have made in my life.
"I knew to get the best out of myself I had to make a huge decision, leave my friends, my family and everything in South Africa.
"I hope I have become a pretty nice guy who will talk to anybody, who is successful at the moment. Long may it continue.
"I thought I had a pretty good go at winning the first award, but the one-day player of the year award really got me. I took my blazer off and was just ready to carry on drinking.
"To be in the world one-day team was a dream come true because, if someone had said to me 14 months ago I would
be selected for England, I would have said 'yeah right'."
Life has certainly changed dramatically in that time for Pietersen, who was accompanied to the ceremony by his new supermodel girlfriend, Caprice.
This second year of an international career, which already boasts four hundreds including that Ashes-deciding effort at The Oval, has the potential to be a difficult one but Pietersen insists he thrives when the stakes are at their highest.
"If you look at most innings when I have scored my runs, I have been under the most extreme pressure you can ever imagine," he said.
"I had to go to South Africa, my homeland where I was born and raised for 20 years and got myself three hundreds.
"I went home and proved myself in one-day internationals against Australia, got selected and did well in the first couple of Test matches and then on D-day, September 12, when someone needed to stand up, with the pressure on every single batsman of the England team,
"I stood up to be counted so I don't think the pressure is a huge issue. I don't care how big the occasion is, I don't blow things out of proportion, I just enjoy myself doing something I love. All I wanted to do in my life was play cricket, it is my passion, my hobby and something I love.
"No matter whether it be in the Ashes, in Pakistan, county cricket, wherever I play every morning you wake up it's a different circumstance. That is what I love about it."