Pietersen says Australian sledgers can`t top Warne

Melbourne: England`s Kevin Pietersen on Wednesday said Australia`s current team could not out-sledge Test greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, dismissing a sharp rise in verbal clashes during the Ashes series.

Pietersen said he had faced some "pretty big verbal contests" during England`s last tour of Australia, when the legendary bowlers were still playing, but had seen nothing unusual in this year`s Tests.

Both teams have acknowledged raised temperatures during the home team`s series-levelling win in Perth, with England`s James Anderson and Matthew Prior in the thick of it along with Australia`s Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle.

"There`s not really any big chirpers or big sledgers, it`s just England versus Australia. It`s an Ashes series," said the South African-born batsman.

"Blokes get a bit of red mist occasionally. You`re allowed to do that on both teams. You`re playing for a little urn. It`s historic. It`s huge. But there`s nothing that`s been overboard."

Australia had not won a Test since July until they wrapped up the big 267-run win on Sunday in a performance marked by a return to their traditional aggression. The series is poised 1-1 going into Sunday`s penultimate Test.

Australia were ordered to tone down their sledging after the notorious 2008 Sydney Test against India, when alleged racial remarks prompted an angry public backlash against a team dubbed the "Unloveables".

Meanwhile Pietersen was also confident that England spearhead Anderson would be fit for the hotly anticipated Boxing Day Test despite a side strain.

Cricket Australia says 91,000 people could pack the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground for day one on Sunday, outstripping the 90,800 who flocked there in 1961 for the fifth Test against the West Indies.

Bureau Report

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