|Player:||KP Pietersen, SK Warne, RT Ponting, PD Collingwood|
DateLine: 28th November 2006
England batsman Kevin Pietersen said he bore no grudge with Australia's Shane Warne Monday after the pair clashed during the Ashes opener at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Pietersen yelled an obscenity at Warne after the Australian leg-spinner hurled the ball at his head during a tense period of play on day four of the first Test Sunday. Pietersen was forced to swat the ball away with his bat.
The confrontation followed criticism that the two players, who are teammates with English county Hampshire, were too friendly for members of opposing Ashes sides.
The 26-year-old right-hander told ABC radio after England lost the Test by 277 runs that the argument with Warne was "just playing nice, hard cricket" and would not affect their off-field relationship.
"What happens on the field stays on the field, it's got nothing to do with what happens off the field," South African-born Pietersen said.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who was receiving treatment for a strained back at the time of the confrontation, said both fans and players would be relish the prospect of more Warne and Pietersen showdowns during the Ashes.
"Going on yesterday it looks like it will be an on-going battle," he said. "I wasn't out there amongst it yesterday, it would have been nice to listen in to what was being said, I also saw it on television. They are two very feisty and competitive players, so there's no doubt that Shane will be bowling a lot to Kevin as the series go on. He (Pietersen) seems like he enjoys the battle as well, so the fans and the players can look to it all summer."
The clash came during Pietersen's 153-run fourth-wicket stand with Paul Collingwood, virtually the only period England was on top during the match. Pietersen said the period of dominance allowed England to salvage some pride after a desperate performance early in the match. "We needed to go out there in the second innings and show some dedication," he said. "We started off really badly in the first three days so we had to go at it and show some determination, some sort of grit and commitment."
He said England would be looking to display similar fighting qualities from the start of the Adelaide Test beginning Friday. "The last 24-36 hours have been very encouraging for England and hopefully we can build on that and take it into the next Test."
Pietersen was optimistic about England's Ashes defence, comparing the Gabba loss to the one his side suffered in the first Test of the 2005 series at Lord's but still went on to win international cricket's oldest prize. "We have started very slowly but we started very slowly at Lord's last year so hopefully the boys can swing it around and come back from there and we can go forward."
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