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Ashes: Kevin Pietersen ready for Xavier Doherty test

First Ashes Test, Brisbane
Dates: 25-29 November Start time: 0000 GMT Coverage: Listen live to Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK only). Watch live on Sky Sports 1, highlights on ITV 4

England arrival ignites Ashes interest

England batsman Kevin Pietersen says he is ready for the challenge awaiting him from Australian left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty ahead of the 2010 Ashes series.

Doherty looks set to play in the first Test in Brisbane on Thursday, as the hosts look to exploit what they feel is a technical flaw in Pietersen's game.

"I don't have technical glitches, I've sorted them," Pietersen told BBC Sport.

"I'm always looking to score against every bowler, but any bowler can get any batter out it's just a fact."

Doherty, who will turn 28 ahead of the start of the first Test, has only taken three five-wicket hauls in first-class cricket and has a bowling average of 48.

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen is relishing the battle with Doherty

However, he did take 2-45 in New South Wales' second innings earlier in the week, including the scalp of Test team-mate Simon Katich.

His surprise inclusion comes at the expense of off-spinner Nathan Hauritz with the Australian selectors convinced Doherty can cause England's batsmen problems.

"The panel believes the left-arm orthodox variety Xavier Doherty provides against a predominantly right-handed English middle-order is the better option in this game," said Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch.

But Pietersen has dismissed any suggestion of a weakness against left-arm spinners.

"I'm sure right-arm seamers have got me out most of my career," Pietersen told BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

"It's something people have talked about but its not something that bothers me. Everyone can talk about what they want, we're going to concentrate on what we do."

He added: "I have seen Xavier Doherty bowl a couple of overs against Sri Lanka in the one-dayers.

"He looks a good bowler but will be interesting to see if they play a spinner or the four quicks. But that's for everyone else to talk about. We're concentrating on what we do, how we'll do it well and all the processes that this team has been doing well over last few months. That's our sole focus not the individuals."

Pietersen meanwhile has praised England's preparation for the series but has admitted after three weeks of build up only now will the camp fully turn their attention to the matter in hand - defending the Ashes.


"There's excitement in the ranks, we've had the first phase of the tour, three first class games where the target was to play hard cricket to win the games," said Pietersen.

"We won two and if it wasn't for rain we could have won in Adelaide. Now we want to ramp it up for Brisbane where the sole focus is on winning the Ashes.

"We haven't really given Australia too much thought at the moment because we've had some good opponents to play. It would have been pretty silly to start thinking way too far ahead and not thinking about the now.

"Now it's a chance for us to get into Australia mode and concentrate on their players and have a look at their players, suss their players out, concentrate on our key strengths and join up with bowlers in Brisbane to get that togetherness together again."

England were whitewashed 5-0 the last time they played an Ashes series in Australia, but Pietersen senses a different mood among the players.

"The tour feels very different to last time," he stated.

"Last time, before we got to Brisbane, it wasn't too much of a tour, it was very friendly and very nice but as soon as the first Test came about everything started going off in terms of Ashes fever."

Pietersen's sentiments were echoed by England managing director Hugh Morris who also praised their build-up.

Ashes: The excitement starts now - Swann

Morris suggested that England are a very different side to the one that was beaten so convincingly in Australia four years ago.

"We've had a really good three weeks in Australia and have had more time to acclimatise out there and get used to the pitches," Morris told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek.

"We've had a very good lead in period, we have no injuries going into this series and we have a settled side and we've gained a lot of confidence over the past 18 months in the way we've been playing."

England's entire squad is now in Brisbane after the first-choice bowlers were joined by the first-choice batsman, and spinner Graham Swann says they are excited by the challenge awaiting them.

Swann also revealed that the interest and publicity had increased with the first Ashes Test just days away.

"The increase in intensity is inevitable," Swann told BBC Sport.

"We are in the week of the first Ashes Test match now or very close to it so the intensity is going to be hyped up as is the media coverage and the publicity that goes with that. Any player would be lying if they said they didn't feel it because this is where the excitement starts.

He added: "We are in a good place right now, we've played some excellent cricket over the past few weeks since we've been here. The acclimatisation couldn't have gone any better."

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