x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Kevin Pietersen feeling ready for Ashes test

His half-century in the warm-up match against Western Australia was one of few consolations at the WACA for England in their first innings.

Kevin Pietersen intends to keep playing "like a clown" as he sets his sights on a third Ashes series win in four attempts.

His half-century in the warm-up match against Western Australia was one of few consolations at the WACA for England in their first innings.

The tourists lost four middle-order wickets for 29 runs on the way to 223 for eight declared — and then managed to shift just one Western Australia batsman in their second innings at the cost of 109 more second—innings runs.

Stuart Broad (53 not out) and Graeme Swann hit 64 together for the ninth wicket in only six overs, to add to Pietersen's 58, but no other England batsman could be remotely happy with today's events.

The state side now have a lead of 128.

Pietersen, however — still without a first—class hundred since he made one for England at Test level in the Caribbean 20 months ago — is increasingly confident he has his mind properly prepared for the challenges ahead.

"I've never really been a technical player. I play like a clown," he said, recalling his trip to South Africa and chats there with coach Graham Ford which he believes have paid rich dividends already.

"It's just my mental approach that I needed to change, just get a load of confidence back, and I'm on fire at the moment.

"I'm looking forward now; I'm not interested in what's gone. I'm very happy with what's happening at the moment."

Pietersen has known the former South Africa coach Ford for more than 20 years, and their latest meetings were badly needed after his run of poor form.

"It was amazing," said the South Africa—born batsman. "He's a close family friend — I feel great at the moment.

"He just knows me, has done since I was a little nipper, so he knows how to sort me out."

The first test of Pietersen's returning confidence came today.

"I really enjoyed it. I've been working hard over the last six weeks," he said at the close on day two of three in the first of three warm—up matches for England before the first Test in Brisbane.

"I came back from South Africa for a couple of weeks, and I feel top-drawer again. I hope there's plenty more to come this winter.

"I love playing in Australia. I had some really good success here personally last time."

Pietersen does not prize rehearsal runs especially highly — but will take them.

"That's probably the second-highest score I've ever got in a warm-up game before a Test," he said.

"I'm not too fazed. If the runs come in a warm-up game, okay; if they don't, it only counts at the Gabba."

He got out when set, but at least made it further than all his teammates.

He admitted: "I don't think we're pleased with the way we got out. But there are a lot of positives from today — a couple of the batters did spend at least an hour out there.

"Yesterday was fantastic, the way we started the tour. Today, there were a few hiccups — but quite a few positives as well."

Pietersen knows a much bigger stage is beckoning, and is determined to keep raising his game.

He has always done so against Australia, and can even point to personal success when England last toured down under — and lost 5—0 under Andrew Flintoff.

"I got 500 runs at 55 last time," he said.

"But I'd take 350 and an Ashes victory, that's for sure.

"I've been pretty fortunate to play three Ashes, and won two of them.

"I'd love to go three—four. We've got a very, very good unit at the moment and we're very happy in all our roles in the team."