Ruf­fling the ego’s feath­ers

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - By RICHARD EARLE

MITCHELL John­son has re­vealed how Aus­tralia is us­ing Kevin Pi­etersen’s ul­tra ego to stran­gle Eng­land’s Ashes de­fence.

Aus­tralia knows it only has to frus­trate the enig­matic stroke­maker and a wild ri­poste will fol­low — pro­vid­ing the gate­way to a brit­tle mid­dle or­der.

Pi­etersen (4) has failed three times in reck­less fash­ion this se­ries with his lat­est down­fall ca­su­ally con­ceived in the nets be­fore play yes­ter­day.

Pi­etersen’s non­cha­lant leg- side flick to Ge­orge Bai­ley off Peter Sid­dle was part of Aus­tralia’s best laid plans.

‘‘It was a plan, you know you have to bowl straighter on these wick­ets and we know he doesn’t like to be tied down,’’ John­son said. ‘‘We had the field set ex­actly as we wanted it and the plan came off.’’

Pi­etersen is firmly en­trenched as Sid­dle’s bunny — dis­missed eight times by the Vic­to­rian in Tests.

Pi­etersen should have squirmed with ev­ery body blow John­son’s fi­nal vic­tim Monty Pane­sar (2) ab­sorbed and at the ridicule dished out to party pal Stu­art Broad and James An­der­son by the bowler.

Pi­etersen made a rare dis­play of team bond­ing with Broad in a late night Sun­day pub ses­sion on ar­rival in Ade­laide but left his com­rades ex­posed with an­other thought­less exit yes­ter­day.

If the ego landed in Bris­bane it is grounded in Ade­laide.

Uptight Pi­etersen ex­ited for 18 in the first in­nings at the Gabba while he sac­ri­ficed a start (26) with a care­less top edge off John­son to long leg in the se­cond dig of Eng­land’s 381-run first Test loss.

Pi­etersen’s day was il­lus­trated in let­ting a Warner cut through his legs to the boundary that etched the opener’s half cen­tury. His mind doesn’t ap­pear on the job.

It will take a mas­sive ego shift from enigma Pi­etersen if Aus­tralia is to con­cede four straight Ashes se­ries for the first time since 1890.

Pic­ture: SARAH REED

Mitchell John­son stares at James An­der­son af­ter dis­miss­ing the Eng­land fast bowler first ball at the Ade­laide Oval yes­ter­day

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