Kevin Pietersen has outlined the key factors to mount a successful Ashes campaign in Australia, although he insists it will take a ‘monumental effort’ for this England side to win back the urn over the next month.
Joe Root’s side begin a five-match series against Australia at the Gabba on Wednesday morning and will be hoping to cause a big upset, with the hosts firm favourites to keep hold of the urn for another two years.
Australia thumped England 4-0 in the last Ashes series Down Under, and the one before that ended in a 5-0 whitewash to the hosts. England won their first away Ashes since 1987 in 2010/11, and Pietersen was a key member of Sir Andrew Strauss’ victorious squad.
Having won the Ashes at home and abroad, Pietersen is well placed to discuss the keys to beating Australia and the Betway ambassador has explained how to win Down Under.
Embrace the occasion
‘The Ashes is something that the fans, the public, the media all get involved in. And you’re always reminded of it as well. It’s a great feather in the cap to say you beat Australia in Australia. These are historic moments and you need to embrace the occasion.’
Silence the crowd
‘If you can get off to a real good start, the public and the media will start to question the Australia side. When we got that draw in Brisbane [in 2010], we were then able to take them apart in Adelaide and that’s where we built up all of our momentum. It’s vital to make sure that the first Test match doesn’t go pear-shaped.’
Score big runs
‘Scoring a lot of runs, big runs, is something you have to do in Australia. You’ve got to make sure you keep there bowlers out there, keep them out there bowling. [Sir Alastair] Cook scored 700 runs when we won there, I got plenty, [Ian] Bell got plenty, [Jonathan] Trott got plenty, [Andrew] Strauss got runs. It’s a key to success to know that if you fail, your other buddy is definitely going to turn up.’
In England’s Ashes victory in 2010/11, the tourists scored 500 or more in four innings, and Steve Harmison also believes top-order runs is the key to winning in Australia.
‘For both sides, the single biggest thing is top order runs,’ the former fast bowler told IndiaBetting.co.in. ‘Big runs from your 1-2-3, that’s the main one.
‘Both bowling units will take 20 wickets on any surface. England in the past have won in 1987, when Chris Broad got a boatload of runs and in 2010/11, when Cook, Stauss and Trott got a load of runs opening the batting.
‘It’s no coincidence that Australia dominated world cricket with [Matthew] Hayden, [Justin] Langer and [Ricky] Ponting all playing over 100 Test matches each and they were formidable at 1-2-3 – that for me is where this series is going to be run, top-order runs.’
Back your strike bowlers
‘You’ve also got to have a strike bowler that takes wickets and a spinner that takes wickets. It’s about having the key personnel delivering when you need to deliver. [James] Anderson at that stage was as good as anyone with his reverse-swing and his control. We had the bowlers to back him up and then we obviously know how good Graeme Swann was on his day.’
Seize the moment
‘I remember in Adelaide in the 2006/07 series we scored 550 in that first innings and still lost that Test match. Making sure that you keep the momentum and you keep people focused for the entire match, that’s another key to winning in Australia. The Australians have got that spirit, that fight, that grit, that determination, so if you give them a chance they’ll get you.’
First Test, December 8-12 (Brisbane)
Second Test, December 16-20 (Adelaide)
Third Test, December 25-29 (Melbourne)
Fourth Test, January 4-8 (Sydney)
Fifth Test, January 14-18 (TBC)
So with Pietersen outlining the key factors to winning the Ashes, does he think Root’s side are capable of pulling off an unexpected win this time around?
‘Even leaving aside the non-cricket issues, it’s difficult to see England scoring the runs that they will need,’ the former captain added.
‘At the moment, there is an incredible reliance on the captain to score all of the team’s runs, with Ben Stokes chipping in here and there.
‘This line-up is nowhere near the top five that we had 11 years ago when Cook, Strauss, Trott, myself and Bell all contributed to a combined total of over 2,000 runs between us.
‘Taking wickets in Australia isn’t easy, and it’s going to be very difficult for Anderson and Stuart Broad to do the business without an awful lot of runs on the board.
‘I take a look down England’s line-up and I just don’t see it happening. I hope I’m wrong, and I look forward to seeing whether one or two of Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan can do the business, but it’s difficult to imagine right now.’
Following the Brisbane Test, Australia and England will move to Adelaide for a day-nighter and Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test. Sydney hosts the fourth match while the fifth Test has been moved from Perth due to Covid-19 restrictions, although a new host is yet to be confirmed.
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