Pietersen describes Ashes torture

LONDON: England batsman Kevin Pietersen described Sunday his "mental torture" at missing the final three Ashes Tests.

The South Africa-born star has been sidelined from the series after undergoing surgery on his right Achilles this week.

It has been a difficult year for Pietersen who was also forced to stand down from the captaincy following a row with former coach Peter Moores.

"I'll be damn glad to see the back of 2009!" he wrote in his News of the World column.

"On Friday I was in so much agony I had to call the England medical team and ask them to come and give me something to combat it.

"Yet whatever the physical pain, it's nothing compared to the mental torture of the past week. To be out of an Ashes series is terrible, so bad I can hardly put it into words."

Pietersen, who revealed he had an epidural injection in his spine in order to get through the first Test in Cardiff, also rubbished claims that he aggravated the problem by jogging on the beach while on Indian Premier League duty for Bangalore Royal Challengers in Durban.

"I played the next day in Durban and there was no problem at all. I certainly wasn't under any instruction not to jog," he said.

While Pietersen misses out, all-rounder Andrew Flintoff looks set to battle on through his final three Test matches before quitting the long form of the game following a succession of injury problems in recent years.

The hero of the 2005 Ashes series victory took five second-innings wickets in the second Test triumph at Lord's earlier this week and his fitness is being monitored ahead of the third Test which starts at Edgbaston on Thursday.

"When you are charging in to bowl with 25,000 fans driving you on and you're living on adrenaline and excitement, it's easy to forget injuries," he said.

"But when everyone has gone home and you wake up the next morning, that's when you have to deal with it."

Despite that, Flintoff is hopeful of making it through the last three Tests.

"There are no guarantees I can play 15 days of cricket in such a short space of time but I will do everything physically possible," he wrote in his News of the World column.

"I've just got through 40 overs of bowling at a decent pace so that is encouraging in itself."

However, Australia have taken some encouragement from Pietersen's absence, with skipper Ricky Ponting claiming it will "hurt England badly".

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Ponting said: "We still have three whole Tests to play. And that is plenty of time for us to turn this series on its head, especially as the loss of Kevin Pietersen is going to hurt England badly.

"We all know what an influence Kevin is around their team. I said at the start of the series that he would be their go-to man, and the guy who would relish playing against Australia the most.

"He brings the X-factor to their batting. And a middle order without him in it definitely will not be the same."