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WE DON'T WANT A BOXING MATCH; ASHES BRING THEM HOME BOYS TWO DAYS TO CRUCIAL TEST IN MELBOURNE.

Byline: DEAN WILSON

RICKY PONTING has accused Kevin Pietersen of trying to start a slanging match whenever he walks to the middle in a bid to fire himself up for batting.

Pietersen loves nothing more than a mid-pitch battle to focus the mind, but Australia are trying to take the same approach to him as they did to Brian Lara and leave him off their sledging list.

The only problem is Ponting ends up dishing out plenty of abuse to Pietersen because he just cannot help himself.

In Perth, Pietersen targeted firebrand bowler Peter Siddle to try and get into a verbal contest, but the Aussies are on to his tactics and will try to be quiet when he walks out.

"Interestingly enough KP instigated some things at Perth and had a crack at 'Sids' when he first came out on to the ground," revealed Ponting.

"You could see then that KP wanted to get himself into a bit of a scrap and once again I couldn't help myself, but he was out soon after.

"There are some guys you want to talk to and others that you're better off not saying anything to and Brian Lara (below) is an example of that.

"The less you said to him then the better chance you had of getting him out. If you got him going it wouldn't be long before he was peeling off big scores against you.

"In the same way I think our guys understand Pietersen's personality quite well and they know what to do and what not to do around him."

Ponting now looks certain to lead Australia into the game in Melbourne after his fractured little finger responded well to rest and treatment.

It has improved so much the 36-year-old is contemplating playing without any additional pain-killers, although should it flare up he can still take the option of numbing it to get through the game.

It would take more than a broken little finger to keep Ponting out of the biggest game of the series and an occasion that he is hoping might just get to the England team.

With a record-breaking partisan crowd expected at the MCG, Ponting believes he and his side will feel ''bullet-proof'' come Boxing Day as they go in search of the win they need to help steal back the urn.

But he is also wary of an English backlash like the one delivered by Australia in Perth.

Both teams have a history of hitting back hard after defeat and this could be no different.

"After the win in Perth this week becomes a very big week in the series and it is going to take a fair bit to keep me out of this game," admitted Ponting.

"There was something like 100,000 here a little while ago for the AFL Final and we'd like to mirror that which is why I say at the start of every summer that the First Test in Brisbane and this match here are the pinnacles of the season for us.

"When you walk out on to the field on Boxing Day morning for the anthem and the ground is full it is an amazing place.

"You almost feel like you are bulletproof to tell the truth if you are an Australian. It is nice to have that feeling in Australia to have all those fans behind you wanting to see you do well. If anything it eases the nerves.

"It lifts you as a player and hopefully it will sound like our home ground, not England's.

"It will lift all of our guys if they do that and make it a little harder for the English team.

"But they are more resilient and we've got to expect them to bounce back now.

"That's the nature of international sport. As a team we cannot afford to just turn up and then expect everything to roll on as it did last weekend.

"It's been a bit of a trademark of the last few Ashes series. Where teams have got off to bad starts and then bounced back or vice-versa.

''Momentum changes quite quickly."

ASHES FOURTH TEST MATCH: 2/1 england; 11/8 Australia; 9/4 Draw

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 24, 2010
Words:720
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