The Ashes fire is being stoked by England cricketers Kevin Pietersen, Ian Botham and Ian Bell ahead of the November 25 start of the series.

The Ashes-hungry England team smell blood after Australia’s recent series loss to India and criticism of Aussie captain Ricky Ponting by his one-time ally Shane Warne.

Warne questioned via Twitter the fields that Ponting set for off-spinner Nathan Hauritz in the second Test against the Indians. Ponting later claimed it was easy to criticise and said Hauritz had demanded for those fields himself. Ponting also advised Warne to talk to him directly before before commenting in the public domain. The two had later patched up by text messaging each other.

Botham said: “ Something obviously isn’t right down there for it to happen in the first place,”

“What’s going on down there? Keep it going. I think it’s great they’re all squabbling and arguing and telling each other what they should be doing.  It really is brilliant. Keep it up boys, I’m loving it.”
England batsman Ian Bell, who also copped his share of criticism from Warne – including being branded the Sherminator due to his ginger hair – said he was ready to some damage against his Aussie rivals at the Ashes showdown.

“I’m a tough cricketer and I’ve learned some tough lessons along the way. I’ve been ticking off a few things over the last 18 months that people have asked of me. One of the last things I need is a hundred against Australia

Kevin Pietersen, under pressure for a string of poor performances, said the last Ashes tour to Australia, when the English were given a 5-0 hiding, still weighed on the minds of players.

“There were a few of us involved in that, so we’ve handed over some sort of knowledge as to how we want to try and do better and be better prepared for what is thrown at us this winter and I’m sure we will do.”

Meanwhile, the Aussies have stayed quiet, preferring to get together for an impromptu cricket match against 250 school children for a Vodafone promotion.

Watch the Australian cricket team take on some pint-sized rivals here here.

– Jahn Vannisselroy