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England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day

Nathan, meet Kevin

Nathan Lyon stayed relatively cool in the face of a typical Kevin Pietersen assault but it led to his removal from the attack

Jarrod Kimber

August 3, 2013

Comments: 6 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen lofts one over midwicket for six, England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, August 3, 2013
Kevin Pietersen was quick to leave his crease against Nathan Lyon © Getty Images

Right arm around the wicket. A little rough. A dry pitch. And three deliveries. That was all it took for Nathan Lyon to look more dangerous than Ashton Agar. It also resulted in Alastair Cook being very nearly taken at slip. And most importantly of all, it showed that Lyon could effortlessly move Sky's rev counter into the red. For those of you who've never seen it that reveals he gives it a rip.

After the next 11.3 overs, Lyon was still wicketless, but wicketless for 23 runs. England had barely scored off him. But Lyon hadn't yet bowled to Kevin Pietersen. Lyon, not being a left armer, is not the sort of spinner that is supposed to trip up Pietersen. Really, any spinner can trip him up but more often they end up as puddles of damp mass at the bowling crease.

There is no way Lyon wouldn't have known what was coming. He probably owns a TV. Pietersen was giving signs of his mood as well. He'd danced down the wicket to Shane Watson - to Lyon he might want to camp mid-pitch. He also had that Pietersen stride of completely arrogant ownership of every blade of grass beneath him.

The first ball Lyon delivered showed how unworried he was to face him. It was outside off stump, and Pietersen just yawned it to mid-on for a single.

The next over Lyon started around the wicket. If it had any impact on Pietersen, it was that it inspired him to make a wild west charge of dominance followed by a mishit of petulance. It went close enough to mid-on for the bowler to share knowing looks with people, but that was all.

By the third, Pietersen was ready to dine on Lyon. When Pietersen charges down the wicket he wants to score; when he stands in the crease and swings he scores. It wasn't timed, or in any way poetic, but it did fly away to the rope. But Lyon wasn't ready to be taken down just yet, and the next ball stopped Pietersen in his tracks. Later on he refused to be fed a decent ball and ran at Lyon, getting to it on the full, before only hitting it to midwicket for no run. Then he took a pause.

It was for a bit of excess dirt somewhere in the middle of the pitch that no offspinner would ever hit. But it wasn't for the dirt. Pietersen wanted Lyon to wait, because Pietersen wanted Lyon to wait. He couldn't have made it more clear he was in charge of the situation if he had hired a skywriter to write "KP" above the ground.

The next over began with an optimistic lbw shout by Lyon. Pietersen looked annoyed by the question. His response was to come down the wicket and crunch a six over long-on. The next ball went over long-off, an even better shot. Lyon was still holding on though, his next ball floated up again. Pietersen was confused by this, expecting the quick, short reply and he almost dragged it back on to his stumps as every limb he has did something different.

It wasn't a real victory, maybe not even a moral one, not even morale saving. But when you've been hit for two straight sixes, even a four seems like a moment of respite. Lyon survived the over.

Next over Pietersen played Lyon's first ball to mid-on so easily that it seemed like he could have down it blindfolded after been spun around four times. It brought Ian Bell on strike, who helped himself to a beautiful six. Clarke had seen enough, it was Lyon's last over of that spell.

Pietersen was 55 when Lyon was taken off. He would make 113. And would face another ten balls from Lyon in that time.

During the 65-80 over mark is when your spinner most pays his way by resting your seamers for the new ball. Lyon bowled one over.

The treatment of Lyon wasn't brutal in a Xavier Doherty kind of way. But that was only because he wasn't kept there for Pietersen to feast on. Pietersen would have kept whacking Lyon as long as Lyon was in front of him.

Lyon is clearly the better spinner than Agar right now. But Clarke was allowed to hide him today. As Pietersen has learned is his dealings with the media, no one can hide forever. Today it was just 19 balls of Pietersen being Pietersen that send Lyon away from the crease. At some stage in this series, if Lyon is to be Australia's spinner, he won't be able to hide behind a few good revs and his seamers.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by landl47 on (August 4, 2013, 10:35 GMT)

@JimDavis: go on thinking that if it makes you feel better. I assure you that history will say that the Ashes were won and lost in this series and then won and lost in the series in Australia and equal value will be given to both series.

How long the winner of this series holds the Ashes is immaterial, it will still be an Ashes win.

Posted by JimDavis on (August 4, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

InfiniteWhite - The third test is only the third of five warm up matches. Due to the money men sticking the two series back to back, the only thing that matters is getting Australia into a position to win 3 tests back in Australia. Having possession of the urn at the end of the 10 tests is all that matters.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (August 4, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

KP has made better spinners than Lyon look ragged. But that shouldn't hide the fact that Nathan Lyon has shown in this Test that he is miles ahead of anybody else in the pecking order as far as Australian spin bowling is concerned(Pity it took three Tests for Lehmann & Co. to realize this).

Posted by InfiniteWhite on (August 4, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

This third test is like a final for Aussies, so they do not need to worry too much about the fourth test. Like everything else in life, do one step at a time. Reinforcements are always available blow for blow, Faulkner for Watson, Bird for Harris.

Posted by chitti_cricket on (August 3, 2013, 23:21 GMT)

By all means Lyon did not bowl bad, if a spinner is hit for two are three sixes by a batsman like KP, that bowler's image is not tornished or he should be worried of. Clarke went bit defensive that's all. I assume even Jarrod reflects the same and thinks same. Current Australian Spin bowling, Lyon is by far the superior bowler and sure needs a place. Untill they discover another Shane Warne. If Ashton Agar improves and grooms into better bowler than they can think of giving Lyon's place.

Posted by landl47 on (August 3, 2013, 22:45 GMT)

The real damage Pietersen and Bell did was to Australia's seam bowlers. With Lyon not carrying the (pardon the pun) lion's share of the bowling from one end, the seamers had to pick up the slack. So far, Harris, Starc and Lyon have all bowled 26 overs, Siddle 25 and Watson 15. If Lyon had bowled 10 more and Harris and Watson 5 less each, Australia would be in better shape. As it is, if Australia wants to enforce the follow-on, the specialist seamers might face the prospect of bowling close to 50 overs each before getting a rest, with Watson contributing maybe 25.

What kind of shape they'll be in for the 4th test after that, who knows?

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