The Victorian quick dismissed Pietersen for the 10th time in his career – and third in a row in these Ashes – late on Saturday in what could be one of the key moments of the series.
Completed via a wonder catch from Mitchell Johnson, who can seemingly do no wrong this summer, it left England ailing at 4-146 and Australia ever closer to the victory in Perth that will secure them a 3-0 Ashes win.
There wasn’t a repeat of the flurry of wickets that came his way in Brisbane and Adelaide but if events pan out here the way Australia desire, they will be replaying Johnson’s grab late for years.
The WACA was left jumping in exhilaration when Johnson leapt high at mid-on, the only thing missing in this Australian rules-mad state being a pair of shoulders in front of him to trampoline himself off.
Siddle, the bowler, roared, aware of the importance of the occasion. Of the 10 times he has captured Pieteren’s wicket, it could well be the most important of the lot.
“He just bowls very tight lines to Pietersen,” McDermott said of Siddle, who has been an unsung hero in this series as Johnson has starred. “I think it plays on anybody’s mind. Some guys don’t like facing certian bowlers, some guys don’t like bowling to certain batsmen. It’s worked out in Sidds’s favour.”
Realising the gravity of the situation, Pietersen had played an out-of-character innings of patience and graft.
Ducking and weaving short-pitched thunderbolts from Johnson before the left-armer’s parochial adopted home crowd, England’s No.4 looked ready to ditch the showmanship for stubbornness to restore some life to the tourists’ flagging fortunes.
He took 15 balls to get off the mark, 44 deliveries to bring up a boundary, and after facing 40 balls had only four to his name.
At one point, when he moved out of the way of another Johnson flyer that shot past his helmet, he was mocked by the moustachioed main man of the Australian attack, who mimicked Pietersen’s evasion after his follow-through.
In extreme temperatures Australia’s bowlers had built pressure effectively on Pietersen and England captain Alastair Cook (72), reducing the visitors’ scoring to a crawl. In the 20 overs after the drinks break following lunch, they put on only 30 runs.
Responding to the 385 set by Michael Clarke’s team, England’s two senior batsmen took it upon themselves to withstand the onslaught and turn around disappointing personal campaigns this summer.
But the heat applied by Clarke’s attack finally paid off in the afternoon. An opening arrived when Cook, after dealing with everything directed at him by Johnson, Ryan Harris and Siddle, was removed with an ugly chop at spinner Nathan Lyon that was caught smartly by David Warner at backward point.
Then came the big kahuna. Pietersen had never really found his groove and in an effort to get into his stride had hit two fours off Johnson in a single over. The first of them, a nick through the slips, brought up 8000 career runs for the 33-year-old.
But that landmark was quickly forgotten in the very next over when, on 19 from 59 balls, he went to hit out at his bogeyman Siddle.
“He was digging himself a fair hole then he started playing a shot a ball,” McDermott said. “The release valve comes then [Siddle] cracks him open.”
England resume on Sunday at 4-180, behind by 205, with the job left to Ian Bell (9 not out) and second-gamer Ben Stokes (14 not out).
Australia’s ability to restrict Cook and Pietersen this summer has been central to their success. Cook has averaged on 30, while Pietersen is going at only 24 per visit to the middle.
In keeping those two down, Australia have moved to within touching distance of bringing down this England dynasty.
England opener Michael Carberry (43), however, maintains the tourists are “still in the hunt” and defended Pietersen’s shot selection. “We know Kevin is a positive player and that is what has made him successful,” Carberry said. “It’s a shot that many of us have seen him time and time again hit out of the ground. It’s obviously disappointing but we want people to play naturally. I’d hate to see him put that in the locker room.”
Source: NSW Sports