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KP - We are underdogs

England batsman pays tribute to 'incredible' Australia

Pietersen: Arrived in South Africa

Kevin Pietersen believes England will start as underdogs when the Ashes series gets under way on November 25, however he is 'quietly confident' of returning home from Australia with the little urn.

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"They beat us 5-0 last time we were there but we are quietly confident that we can put on a really good show."

Kevin Pietersen

Quotes of the week

England have not won an Ashes series Down Under since 1986-87, however a flurry of high-profile retirements in the Australia team have led many to believe that Andrew Strauss' side are set to end that drought this winter.

But Pietersen, who has arrived in South Africa attempting to play his way back into form with KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins, is under no illusions of the task that lies ahead.

"We are definitely underdogs because Australia in Australia is an incredible cricket team," Pietersen said.

Dropped

"They beat us 5-0 last time we were there but we are quietly confident that we can put on a really good show."

Pietersen, 30, has not scored a Test century since March 2009 and was dropped for the recent one-day series against Pakistan after averaging just 23.33 during the English summer.

"It was certainly the toughest conditions I have played in during the six summers I have spent playing Test cricket in England," he admitted .

"There weren't too many batters who averaged 20 or 30 at the top of the order from either side.

"It's a known fact that 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 and 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."

Team spirit

Pietersen and the England team have just returned home from a five-day 'development camp' in Germany as they prepare for a gruelling tour of Australia followed by the ICC World Cup in February/March.

But, despite the daunting task that awaits Pietersen and co, the South Africa-born batsman is confident England have the strength in depth to retain the Ashes urn they won on home soil just over a year ago.

"I think we have got a really good squad and it is a squad that has matured a lot," he said.

"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.

"We have just had a camp in Germany and the team spirit and bonding was amazing on what was quite a tough trip both mentally and physically."