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Strauss backs Pietersen after Buchanan criticism

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Strauss backs Pietersen to shine during Ashes

England's Andrew Strauss has dismissed suggestions that Kevin Pietersen could be a divisive influence during this winter's Ashes tour in Australia.

Ex-Australia coach John Buchanan, who also worked with England in the summer, said the batsman "has the potential to be fragmentary and an individualist".

But captain Strauss told BBC Sport: "Kevin Pietersen has never been a problem for the England cricket team.

"Buchanan is off the mark to say that - I'm sure Kevin will come to the party."

Pietersen, who recently described himself as "on the way down now" having turned 30 in June, has not scored a Test century since March 2009 and was dropped by England at the end of the summer.

What Test cricket needs is a match-winner and exciting cricket and Kevin Pietersen fits the bill.

Former Australia bowler Brett Lee

Asked if he could imagine Pietersen not making the team for the first Test if he continued to struggle for form in the warm-up games, Strauss replied: "No, I couldn't see that happening.

"We all know what sort of character he is, we know these sort of big Ashes series tend to bring out the best in him and to me that's very encouraging.

"He's been out of form - that happens to all of us - and anyone who has played international cricket for any length of time knows it only takes one innings to get yourself back in form.

"For Kevin it might be one of the first-class games that precede the Ashes, it may be in the first Test match, but he'll come right - he's too good a player not to.

"I don't have any concerns that he's going to come right, the key is that he hopefully hits that first Test feeling in great form and ready to make his mark on an Ashes series."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes "there is a big question mark" over Pietersen, while new ball bowler Mitchell Johnson has warned the batsman to expect a barrage of bouncers during the five-match Test series.

606: DEBATE
SBHS

However, Brett Lee reckons Australia's planned assault on Pietersen could backfire and they should leave the potentially explosive right-hander alone, particularly when he is out in the middle.

The paceman, who took 310 wickets in 76 Tests for Australia, told Sportal: "There are guys you can stir up and get stuck into and there are others you leave alone.

"[India's] Sachin Tendulkar is a guy you don't want to chat to, period, because he will knuckle down, same as [West Indies batsman] Brian Lara.

"Pietersen has controlled aggression and he likes it when someone has a chat to him. He takes it personally and it fires him up and he'll want to score a big hundred.

"He's a class act. He will do well and I hope he does put on a good show for the Australian spectators.

"What Test cricket needs is a match-winner and exciting cricket and Kevin Pietersen fits the bill.

"He might be a slightly different character to the norm - he might be away from the side and doing his own thing - but that happens in everyday life.

"I'd always back Kevin Pietersen to come out and do well."

Meanwhile, Strauss has also defended the decision to hold a pre-Ashes boot camp during which Lancashire bowler Jimmy Anderson suffered a cracked rib.

The injury is believed to have happened during a sparring session but when asked if there were any regrets about the camp, Strauss insisted: "No, none whatsoever.

"It was designed to test us, to bind us closer together, to go through shared experiences together, and that's what we went through.

Prior defends England 'boot camp'

"Jimmy's going to be fine. It wasn't ideal - clearly no-one wants to see anyone get injured during those sort of things - but we're professional sportsmen and unfortunately you're going to get times when injuries happen.

"Whether it is in nets, or in a match or doing a gym session - it can come at any time.

"Thankfully we've got enough time to get Jimmy completely right well before the Ashes start.

"You can never be 100% certain on anything, but the information we've had is that he should be ready in plenty of time."

England's tour of Australia gets under way on 5 November with a warm-up game against Western Australia and the first of five Ashes Tests starts on 25 November in Brisbane.



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see also
Buchanan voices Pietersen doubts
14 Oct 10 |  England
England appoint ex-Australia boss
08 Aug 10 |  England
Ramprakash expects Ashes success
13 Oct 10 |  England
Pietersen scores 36 for Dolphins
07 Oct 10 |  England
Panesar & Tremlett in Ashes squad
23 Sep 10 |  England
Pietersen aims to recapture form
04 Oct 10 |  Cricket
Pietersen to play in South Africa
09 Sep 10 |  England
Pietersen apologises for outburst
01 Sep 10 |  England
England drop Pietersen from squad
31 Aug 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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