KP 'on fire' ahead of Ashes

2010-11-06 17:15
Kevin Pietersen (File)

Perth - Rejuvenated by a brief stint in his homeland of South Africa, England batsman Kevin Pietersen says he is "on fire" heading into the upcoming Ashes series.

Pietersen opened his Ashes tour by top-scoring for England in their first innings of the three-day tour match against Western Australia at the WACA Ground.

Dropped on 25 in slips as he made a streaky start to his knock, Pietersen scored 58, including nine boundaries, as England slumped to 117/7 before recovering slightly to declare at 223/8.

Pietersen is looking to put a modest 12 months with the bat behind him, having not made a Test century since March last year, and was delighted with his first innings of the Ashes tour.

He said a brief stint in South Africa in October, during which he played two first-class games and also spent time with long-time mentor Graham Ford, had him primed to recapture his best form against Australia.

"I really enjoyed today, it is always nice to get time out in the middle," he said

"I have been working really hard over the last six weeks to get to a place where I am at at the moment.

"As I said, coming back from South Africa a couple of weeks I feel top draw again."

Pietersen said it was the mental, rather than technical, side of the his game that needed work and admitted his confidence had suffered in recent times as he struggled with his own form.

"I have never really been a technical player, you've seen me play for six years," he said.

"I play like a clown, it is my mental approach that I needed to change.

"I needed to get a load of confidence back and I'm on fire at the moment, so I am very happy."

Pietersen said the time spent working with Ford was invaluable.

"It was amazing, I have worked with him since I was six or seven years old and he is a great family friend," he said.

"Fordy just knows me.

"He knows how to sort me out."

The Australians have often taken aim at Pietersen for being a selfish player and paceman Doug Bollinger recently commented that they were confident the tall right-hander's ego would get in his way during the Ashes.

On his last tour of Pietersen made 490 runs at 54.44, but England was thrashed 5-0 in the series.

Pietersen, who insisted he had paid no attention to Australia's current form woes in all forms of cricket, said he was totally focussed on team goals this time around.

"Team business for sure," he said when asked if he had unfinished business in Australia.

"I got 500 runs here at 55 or something last time.

"I'd take 350 and an Ashes victory for sure."

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