London:Kevin Pietersen, the England batsman, has said England will start as "underdogs" in the Ashes in Australia but the run of successes since regaining the urn last year has given his team a better chance compared to the last time they were there, when they suffered a 5-0 thrashing. England haven't won an Ashes series in Australia since 1986-87.
"We are definitely underdogs because Australia in Australia are an incredible cricket team," Pietersen said in Durban. He's in South Africa to represent the domestic side Dolphins in two first-class games, an experience, he said, should help him regain his form. Pietersen hasn't scored a century in 26 innings and in a low-scoring series against Pakistan, which England won 3-1, he averaged 23.33 in four Tests.
"It was certainly the toughest conditions I have played in during the six summers I have spent playing Test cricket in England," he said. "There weren't too many batsmen who averaged 20 or 30 at the top of the order from either side.
"I haven't got as many runs as I could have possibly got in the last couple of months and [in South Africa] there is a chance for me to play on some good wickets and against the Kookaburra ball.
"I am out here now to try to put things right, to spend some time in the middle and work a lot harder than I have worked before, so that I am in the best nick possible come the Ashes tour."
The England team recently underwent a bonding exercise at a boot-camp in Bavaria, Germany.
"I think we have got a really good squad and it is a squad that has matured a lot. It has become a really tight unit, all the guys get on well and when the going gets tough, as I know it does when you tour Australia, we have a unit that will stand together and pull through," Pietersen said.
"We have just had a camp in Germany and the team spirit and bonding was amazing on what was quite a tough trip mentally and physically."