ENGLAND batsman Kevin Pietersen is refusing to be drawn into a pre-Ashes slanging match but admits he and his team-mates fancy their chances of achieving a rare triumph Down Under.
Australia stepped up the psychological warfare last week when they projected an image of captain Ricky Ponting onto Big Ben with the legend: “Don’t forget to pack the urn”.
Mischievous Ponting has also singled out Pietersen for special treatment, suggesting England should be worried by the erratic form of one of their most experienced and effective players.
But the South Africa-born star has dismissed the barbs, depicting them as irrelevant and an Australian attempt to provoke, while reminding them that England expect to return home victorious. “This is my fourth series against Australia. Every single time I have played against Australia, for the months leading up to it a lot of things are said which have absolutely no bearing after the first ball is bowled,” he said.
“I am not prepared to get involved. I’m not prepared to add any fuel to any fire that they might have started. I just want to go out and play some really tough, hard cricket and challenge myself against the Australians in Australia. I know all the English players are quietly confident we will do a lot better than we did last time.”
Pietersen is raring to go after spending a month in South Africa working on his game with friend and coach Graham Ford.
“He picked out one little thing that I haven’t been doing in the last six months, since the Caribbean in the World Twenty20 and we worked on that little thing in particular,” he added. “I feel fantastic now.”
ICC reject Butt and Amir appeals
PAKISTAN pair Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir have failed with appeals against their provisional suspensions concerning allegations of spot-fixing. Governing body the International Cricket Council is investigating claims that Test captain Butt, seamer Amir and Mohammad Asif deliberately bowled no-balls during the summer tour of England.