Pietersen wants to make most of South Africa stint

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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen is hoping to make the most of his brief stint with South African side the Dolphins ahead of what he expects to be a very tough winter.

The England batsman is desperate to get back to his best for the Ashes tour to Australia after a mediocre summer in which he made just one score of over 50 in Test cricket.

The 30-year-old held his first net session since arriving in South Africa yesterday and admitted afterwards how he was looking forward to the two four-day games for the Durban franchise.

"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.

"My role here is not just for my own benefit.

"Hopefully it will also benefit some of the guys who want to ask questions and want to speak to me about playing on the big stage.

"It is time to start giving back and to realise that there are a lot of young players that do look up to senior players.

"I am 30 years old now. I have probably got to the top of the fence and am on the way down now.

"It is encouraging and nice if you can help somebody else."

Pietersen, who last scored a Test century since the tour of West Indies last March, was dropped for the recent limited-overs series against Pakistan due to poor form.

He was then loaned to county side Surrey, where he showed signs of returning to form and will be desperate to kick on from that in South Africa.

The first of his two first-class games for his former club will come against the Warriors in the city of his birth, Pietermaritzburg, starting on Thursday.

Seven days later he will play against the Titans in Durban.

Pietersen revealed that the decision to come back to Kwa-Zulu Natal was also motivated by family reasons.

He continued: "I was coming out to South Africa anyway to introduce my little boy to the rest of his family and I saw that there was an opportunity to play for the Dolphins.

"With Graham Ford being a close friend of mine I rang him up and asked if there was a possibility of me being able to train with the Dolphins and possibly play with them.

"I'm looking forward to getting some things going with Fordie and the Dolphins over the next few weeks because England has a very tough winter coming up.

"It will be a case of feeling my way in over the next few days and helping out wherever I can as well."

Looking ahead to the trip Down Under, he conceded that England will be second-favourites, but was confident they could succeed.

He added: "We are definitely underdogs because Australia in Australia is an incredible cricket team.

"They beat us 5-0 last time we were there but we are quietly confident that we can put on a really good show.

"I think we have got a really good squad and it is a squad that has matured a lot.

"It has become a really tight unit, all the guys get on well and when the going gets tough, as I know it does when you tour Australia, we have a unit that will stand together and pull through.

"We have just had a camp in Germany and the team spirit and bonding was amazing on what was quite a tough trip both mentally and physically."