Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day December 14, 2013

Siddle maintains stranglehold over Pietersen

Other bowlers often reap the benefits of the pressure built by Peter Siddle but it seems fitting that against Pietersen, Siddle himself is rewarded

When people call Peter Siddle a workhorse, it is a backhanded compliment that suggests he is the foil to the better bowlers. When people call Kevin Pietersen a show pony, it often masks a grudging admiration for his skill, instead focusing on a perceived grandiosity.

Pietersen has good reason for his self-confidence; he has been Man of the Match 26 times in international cricket. Siddle has three such awards. But in Test cricket, the so-called workhorse has the better of the so-called show pony.

Pietersen's pull to a leaping Mitchell Johnson at mid-on in Perth was the tenth time Siddle has claimed Pietersen's wicket in Tests. No bowler has removed Pietersen so often; no batsman has been dismissed by Siddle more times. Six times this year alone - three in this series, three in England - Siddle has been the man to get rid of Pietersen. In a side boasting Johnson and Ryan Harris, that may seem inexplicable, but it is the result of pressure.

A flick to short midwicket in the first innings in Adelaide was an attempt to force the pace. So was a drive on the up to point at Lord's. So was an edge behind while driving at Old Trafford. So was a nick to slip at Trent Bridge. And so, clearly, was the pull at the WACA. Johnson and Harris give Pietersen releases, and Nathan Lyon has little hope of keeping him quiet. But Shane Watson and Siddle dry up his runs with accuracy and consistency.

Consider Pietersen's strike rate against Australia's four main bowlers in this series: 70.42 against Lyon, 45.87 to Johnson, 39.28 against Harris, 21.50 against Siddle. It is death by suffocation.

"He bowls very tight lines to Pietersen and has patience," Australia's bowling coach Craig McDermott said. "He was 4 off 40 balls, he was digging himself a fair hole from my perspective, and then he started playing a shot a ball. Sidds has tied him down time and time again and then the release valve comes and Sidds cracks him open. That's great for us, we hope it continues.

"We've got our plans that we want to bowl to each batsman, and certainly that's the way in which we prefer to bowl to Kevin. It's working for us at the moment. We'll continue to do that unless he changes his way of batting, I suppose. I think it plays on anybody's mind. Some guys don't like facing certain bowlers, some guys don't like bowling to certain batsmen."

Against many batsmen, other bowlers reap the benefits of the pressure built by Siddle. It seems only fitting that against Pietersen, Siddle gets the reward for the pressure accumulated through his own bowling and that of others like Watson. Siddle, Watson, Harris and Lyon have all been outshone in this series by Johnson, but on the second day at the WACA that was far from the case - Johnson was the only bowler who didn't claim a wicket.

In fact, Johnson has now bowled 38.3 overs for 116 runs since he last struck in this series. But the threat that he posed on the WACA pitch was important all the same. Typically, Australia's breakthroughs came through a change. Just when the batsman thought he was getting accustomed to the pace, or the angle, he was served something different.

Harris went around the wicket to Michael Carberry and had him playing on first ball. Watson struck in the first over of a spell, nipping a ball away from Joe Root for a controversial edge behind. Cook's cut to point came in the first over of a spell from Lyon, which seemed a chance to force the scoring rate. And Siddle had replaced Johnson when he got rid of Pietersen, who was starting to become anxious for some more boundaries.

Four dots from Siddle were followed by the pull to mid-on. It was another victory for the workhorse.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 15, 2013, 6:11 GMT

    I think this series will bring a natural end to the Test career of KP and he will play on in the 20/20 format. He is no longer up to the challenge of facing truly challenging bowling in a harsh environment that is Test cricket. Famed for his mental strength he is sadly now a shell of his former self. A brilliant career for England though.

  • David on December 15, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    Pietersen has played 25 of his 102 tests against Australia. The next closest is India on 16. Siddle has played in 15 of these matches. Not terribly surprising that he has got Pietersen out more often than any other bowler, then.

    Also, he was England's second highest averaging batsman (38.80 ...after Bell, and excluding Woakes who played only one match) in the last Ashes series.

    So restricting his scoring is how you get him out...I wonder why no other team ever tried that. Or maybe he's just not gotten a big score in his last five innings and Australia have been bowling well?

  • Azhar on December 15, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    I blame KP for the dismissal. He gave his wicket away rather than the bowler taking it. The situation demanded that he showed some patience and stayed at the wicket, but he played like Shahid Affridi without any consideration for the team situation. Looks like his ego gets better of him.

  • rob on December 14, 2013, 22:57 GMT

    Sids is like a human bowling machine. Set his radar and he rarely strays. When he first came onto the scene he was a 150k merchant. I know it's hard to believe but I kid you not. I distinctly remember a match where he was consistently within about 5k's of Brett Lee who was bowling seriously fast at the time. .. That was years ago and he's a much better bowler these days anyway even if he is 15 k slower.

  • Android on December 14, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    Pietersen is a King.....on flat tracks!

  • John on December 14, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    As I put in another post I wonder whether KP is lacking focus or even affected by injury.

    His shots he's playing where he gets out aren't necessarily the wrong shots but they look kind of tired/lazy.

  • P on December 14, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    I think England can still use KP as a specialist in Indian conditions. He is excellent there but not in pace friendly wickets. He should be used like England uses Monty.

  • des on December 14, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    KP is 33. His career average gets lower every year. Is it incorrect to say he is in decline? Are his best days really ahead of him? Seriously?

    He has played some of the most memorable innings of the last decade. That's how I will remember him. But, like Sehwag, he relies a lot on a 'good eye' and he won't survive as long as the technicians like Hussey, Kallis and Sachin,

  • Mashuq on December 14, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    Nothing reveals Sidds' value to this team more than the achievements highlighted in this article. My personal feelings about KP had better be left unexpressed as some of my posts have been deleted. However, tend to agree with your sentiments about his demise, @InsideHedge on (December 14, 2013, 16:27 GMT)

  • disco on December 14, 2013, 16:49 GMT

    KP's dismissal exemplifies the brilliance and balance of the current Australian bowling unit. This was the most thrilling moment of the series, Siddle's reaction and MJ's astonishing leap and tumble was pure cricketing magic. Looking forward to Lyon bowling as this wicket deteriorates further.

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