Ponting raises doubt on Pietersen’s form ahead of Ashes

Last Updated: Oct 11, 2010, 14:47 PM IST

Melbourne: Continuing his pre-Ashes mind battle, Ricky Ponting has said that there is “a big question mark” over Kevin Pietersen, and predicted England will be nervous about touring Australia this summer.

Many have labelled this English touring side the best since their previous successful campaign in Australia in 1986-87, but Ponting said there were weaknesses in their game.

Pietersen, he indicated, is the obvious one, having been dropped from the one-day and Twenty20 squads, and now playing in the South African domestic league.

The star batsman has failed to score a Test century since March last year, and despite his outstanding record against Australia, Ponting said he and a couple of other batsmen had some work to do.

“We’ll see in the middle of January if they have any reason for [optimism] at all. ‘‘When I talk about them being probably the most settled side in a while, there’s still a few question marks around their side,” Ponting told BBC radio.

“Pietersen is still a big question mark at the moment, Alastair Cook is only just holding on to his spot by the skin of his teeth, [Paul] Collingwood’s probably not had the best Test summer of his life either,” he said.

“There’s enough happening around there to know that they’ll be a little bit nervous when they arrive to Australia, and our group is coming together pretty well,” Ponting said.

South African-born Pietersen is playing for Durban’s Nashua Dolphins, and last week made the startling admission he was not playing well.

“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,” he said.

ANI