Pietersen: Schedule gruelling
England's Kevin Pietersen has conceded this year's unprecedented Ashes schedule has indeed taken its toll on Andy Flower's battle-weary troops.
Alastair Cook's team have found themselves playing 10 back-to-back Tests against Australia in the space of six months and while they retained the Ashes in the summer the urn has now been surrendered Down Under.
Australia can make it four straight Test wins on Sunday as they chase 231 to win in Melbourne after winning the opening three matches by convincing margins.
England have fared a little better at the MCG, but Pietersen, who scored 71 and 49 in the fourth Test, insists scoring has been tough for the tourists.
Before start of play on day three, Pietersen told Sky Sports: "Scoring's been incredibly tough. It's been a series of hard work.
"I think people mustn't forget as well - it's never been done before - that guys have got to go and endure 10 back-to-back Ashes Test matches.
"I've been told a number of post-Olympic athletes go into some sort of depression or negative frame of mind.
"I'm not saying we are in some sort of depression or negative frame of mind - but after you've competed at such a level, post that competition, mentally you are a bit fragile."
England arrived in Australia more than two months ago, hoping to win the Ashes for a fourth successive time - but in the end, Pietersen senses, it was asking too much.
"To play an Ashes and then another Ashes, and for us being away from home, it's a tough gig," he continued.
"We just want to salvage some pride - win here, we hope, and try to do something special in Sydney.
"It's been an incredibly pressurised situation. Playing back-to-back Ashes series and being away for the second leg and not starting in the manner we are accustomed to... has been incredibly difficult."
Pietersen top-scored in England's first innings in Melbourne, only to fall to a bizarre shot when he was bowled trying to counter-attack Mitchell Johnson.
"Yesterday's dismissal, I know there's a bit of a talking point," he said.
"As soon as (Tim) Bresnan got out, I was under the impression I had to do all the scoring - take all the strike.
"Look, I get out for nought, I get nailed. I get out for 70, I get (nailed).
"I was playing for the team's cause and trying to score as many runs as possible as quickly as possible - because I knew I was going to have to do it."