A decade has passed since Kevin Pietersen helped England secure their last Ashes series win in Australia, but his advice on how to repeat the feat is no less relevant today.
Head coach Chris Silverwood has described a tour of Australia as “the pinnacle as an England Test cricketer,” and the squad has flown out with a view to becoming the first team to win Down Under in a decade.
Pietersen, 41, was part of the last England team to defeat Australia on their own soil in 2011, since which the Britons have toured on two occasions without managing to pick up so much as a Test win.
Hopes aren’t high that this England team will be able to end the drought come January, but Pietersen’s snippets of insight could prove invaluable considering they come from experience.
“Once you get off to a really good start then, the public and media start to question the Australian side,” the South Africa-born star told Betway.
“For us to get that draw in Brisbane, then to take part in Adelaide on that particular tour was where we built up all the momentum. It’s vital to make sure that the first Test doesn’t go pear-shaped.”
England kick off this year’s series on December 8 with what promises to be a stern examination at the Gabba.
They’ll then transfer to the Adelaide Oval for the second Test on December 16 before staging the third and fourth Tests in Melbourne and Sydney, respectively.
The fifth and final Test of the series is to be played at Perth Stadium between January 14 and 18, by which point both teams will hope to have a hand on the Ashes urn.
“Scoring a lot of runs is something you have to do in Australia,” Pietersen added.
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“You have to make sure you keep the bowlers out there. [Alastair] Cook scored 700 runs, I got plenty, Ian Bell got plenty, [Andrew] Strauss got runs. It’s key to success to know that if you fail your other buddy is definitely going to turn up.”
While it may sound straightforward, it serves as a reminder that even professional athletes sometimes benefit from a reminder of their objective.
Keeping Australia from batting as much as possible is easier said than done, however, with plenty of pressure on captain Joe Root, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and others to keep their hosts on the back foot.
For all the focus on the practical, however, perhaps Pietersen’s most important piece of advice was in relation to attitude and the mentality one needs to topple Australia.
“I remember in Adelaide in the 2006/07 series where we had scored 550 in that first innings and we lost that test match,” he continued. “Making sure that you keep the momentum down and you keep people focused the entire time that’s the key to winning in Australia.
“The Australians have got that mongrel spirit, that fight, the determination, the grit. You give them a chance and they will get you.”
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The rivals drew 2-2 in England when the Ashes was last held in 2019, with the urn remaining in Australia’s possession following their last home triumph two years prior.
Character is one thing that may be considered lacking for the Lions compared to that squad of a decade ago, but all the more reason why England should want to prove those doubters wrong.
Pietersen knows a thing or two when it comes to silencing his critics, and his nuggets of knowledge could prove pivotal to his former side doing just that in Australia later this month.