Kevin Pietersen is braced for a bouncer barrage during this winter's Ashes defence.

Pietersen, whose memorable 158 at the Oval last September effectively sealed England's 2-1 victory over Australia, is sure to be tested by the short stuff in the five-Test series.

In the aftermath of Saturday's six-wicket victory over England in the ICC Champions Trophy, Australian captain Ricky Ponting suggested that bumping their opponents could be profitable.

Both Pietersen and captain Andrew Flintoff were softened up with bouncers at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium and the latter was dismissed when he miscued a hook.

Between them, the pair hit 25 of the 36 sixes England struck in last summer's momentous series but Ponting believes the bigger grounds in Australia will make big shots a risky business.

Pietersen countered: "Nowadays, it doesn't matter whether you bat one or 11, you are going to get a barrage.

"Being a dangerman, they are going to try a little bit harder but that is a challenge and I don't mind a challenge.

"I don't think it is a weakness; for some of our guys, the hook and pull is a strength.

"It is just how individuals deal with any given situation; it is about instinct and how you feel on the day.

"There was a situation at Manchester this summer when Mohammad Sami ran in at me and I just had to defend and play the day out.

"You don't know how it is going to be in any given situation. You might need to score at four runs per over, you might not."

Pietersen also hit back by warning England will fight fire with fire. "Our pace bowlers are pretty quick and I am not sure they will be producing bouncy wickets, because if we have Steve Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Sajid Mahmood running in at 90mph, there is no batsman in the world that would like it," he said.

"There is no-one who could say they love facing bumpers all day at 90mph."

Such has been Pietersen's impact in his two years at the top level that his current run in one-day internationals looks like a crisis.

Although he played two innings to guide England to small targets against Pakistan last month, he has not scored a half-century in any of his last eight innings.

Nevertheless, the 26-year-old, who Ponting recently predicted will be the sport's next superstar, insists he is in good touch.

"I am hitting the ball as well as I have ever done in the nets," he said. "I don't feel out of form, it is just that you can't score runs all day every day. I look at the positives and never the negatives: I could get out for one, but you are only one innings away from a big hundred or a match-winning performance."

Dismissed for under-par scores in both Group A contests here, England have become reliant on Pietersen's runs in limited-overs matches.

"It is sometimes frustrating on my behalf because I want to score runs and maybe try a bit too hard," said Pietersen. "But it is a team and it is not a case of me thinking 'I have to do this or do that'. Not at all.

"I know how hard the boys are trying, the training sessions we have had for the last couple of weeks, gearing up for the huge game the other day and the winter ahead, have been harder than previous ones.

"I have not been part of an England team that has trained so hard. Every single bloke is committed to the cause and it is frustrating on everybody's behalf."

One of those commitments here includes ice baths after workouts in the heat, something Pietersen is not fond of.

"It is horrible, I hate it," he said. "It is absolutely freezing and I hate the very thought of it.

"But everyone clubs in, there is no moaning or complaining and it shows our sense of togetherness, which we will need this winter."