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Other bowlers often reap the benefits of the pressure built by Peter Siddle but it seems fitting that against Pietersen, Siddle himself is rewarded
December 14, 2013
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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 hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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