Belfast Telegraph

Swann happy for Pietersen to grasp spotlight

Kevin Pietersen is the darling of the England team once again — for his golden-arm bowling as well as his world-class batting.

England have a shot at victory in the second Ashes Test thanks not only to Pietersen's career-best 227 but the priceless wicket of Michael Clarke, delivered by the man of the moment with the last ball before stumps on day four at the Adelaide Oval.

England's champion off-spinner Graeme Swann voiced his own gratitude, after Pietersen had shown him how to get rid of one of Australia's best batsmen — just when Clarke and Michael Hussey were threatening to stall England's pursuit of a 1-0 series lead.

Pietersen began his day's work by completing his highest Test score, having hit 33 fours and a six from 308 balls, before England finally declared on 620 for five. Then after Swann had snared Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting but then gone 20 more overs without another wicket, Pietersen needed only eight deliveries of his own brand of off-spin to shift Clarke.

His first Test wicket since July 2008, and only the fifth of his career, could not have been more timely for an England team unable to break a fourth-wicket stand of 108 for 33 overs.

With Clarke gone for 80, the hosts closed on 238 for four — still 137 runs short of making England bat again and needing to bat throughout the final day, or hope more forecast rain materialises. Swann was thankful, to Pietersen and his captain Andrew Strauss for tossing his team-mate the ball.

“It was one of those sessions where I felt the world was against me,” he said, reflecting on his lack of success after tea.

“Sometimes the best captains in the world are the ones who just say 'take a break, mate'.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed to be taken off. But it's great when Kev can come on and do that.

“For the last session, it was tough going — with their two best players of spin at the crease, both playing well.

“Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration — and who else but KP to come on and give you it?”

Swann's rise to number one in the international rankings for spin bowlers means much has been and will continue to be expected of him this winter.

But he added: “Personally, I couldn't give a monkey's who gets the wickets. I'm so glad KP got that one in the last over, because Clarke is their best player of spin — and to get him out like that was magic.

“It is sod's law — but I love sod's law sometimes. It's a massive bonus for us.”

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