London : Exiled England batsman Kevin Pietersen says Australia are favourites to win the upcoming Ashes Test cricket series, but has warned them that the hosts will not go down without a fight.

The Ashes begins on July 8 at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and Pietersen, currently with St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), said it will be closer between Australia and England than most think, but maintained that the visitors would ultimately retain the coveted urn.

“The Ashes is going to be very close, much closer than we think. Australia have the edge in certain areas but it’s not going to be three, four or five nil,” Pietersen was quoted as saying by TalkSport radio while speaking to ex-English pacer Darren Gough on Wednesday.

The former England captain was omitted from their Ashes squad by coach Trevor Bayliss, who previously refused to be drawn into controversy surrounding his selection.

“I’ve gone for two-one to Australia but English conditions will help England and Australia will be tested. The Dukes ball is totally different from the Kookaburra,” the 35-year-old said.

A number of English players are in good form recently with young batsman Joe Root and seasoned seamer James Anderson looking to spearhead the English line-up coming into the first Test on July 8.

Despite the English team recent change in fortune, Pietersen believes that England’s stars needed to perform to their maximum ability or risk being blown away by the Australians.

“England has some key players in Joe Root, James Anderson and Alastair Cook,” he said.

“They all have to have an amazing series because, if they don’t, then we’re in trouble, whereas Australia has a lot of depth in their side,” Pietersen concluded.

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