Third Test – Day 3: Is it possible to like KP?

Third Test, Old Trafford, Manchester

Aug 1-5

Day 3

Australia 7/527 dec

England 7/294 (K. Pietersen 113)


Taking my lead from intrepid Day 2 reporter, A. Else, shortly after dinner I put another log on the fire and cleared the books, Lego and lidless Textas from the couch.

The fire was well-established. I could thank The Handicapper for that. Fed up with the wet, green wood of our modest pile, she had handed down a decision that allowed for the purchase of wood from the local service station. Clearly she hadn’t completed any due diligence as the bag cost $14 for eight small pieces of red gum which had to be carefully rationed and combined with the wet stuff from out the back to get me to stumps.

But what price a cosy lounge-room filled with the warmth of children, especially those trying to land blows on each other while avoiding teeth-brushing and other important rituals.

I was looking forward to the day’s play, but my attention was grabbed (easily) by the Carlton-Freo match. The watching-proportions would reveal themselves.

In Manchester, it was the opportunity for Nathan Lyon which appealed. He had bowled beautifully the night before, as had Peter Siddle; certainly the cricket was so intriguing I’d gone the full distance, even though suffering at the hands of a North victory (I’ve tipped them all year for nowt result and now they beat my own team! More on that some other time.)

Understandably, Michael Clarke opened with Harris and Siddle. By then Carlton looked harder than I can recall in recent times, not that I commit much about Carlton to memory. They looked quick. They looked tough. And it seemed like Yarran, (especially) Garlett and Betts might find a way to burst through, or get out the back, even if, in the old days, that was cheating. How the game changes.

With the little Cricinfo box in the corner of the lap-top screen to my side, I remained focussed on the relentlessly robust Docklands stoush. However, good fortune did allow me to see Siddle put balls through Trott, whose presence at the crease suggested he was a man in the state of being hungover (there should be a word for that, where is Douglas Adams when you need him?), and Cook, who couldn’t get his feet moving. Interesting.

However, nothing in Manchester, nor in most places on Planet Earth, could rival Hills running goal, after a rugby league half-back’s short off-load from Walters. What a sausage! I was yahoo-ing and clapping. On my own. In acknowledgement of a thing of majesty.

Not to be outdone by his brother brothers, Yarran sprinted away at the other end, and kicked one of the points of the year.

The sun was out in Manchester but it wasn’t as bright as the first day when the light looked positively weird. It was colonial light – Brisbane in October, or Cape Town – not northern English light.

Trott tried to leave one from Harris but somehow nicked it to Clarke who held the catch at second slip. Three down. Kevin Pietersen strode to the crease, looking like a man who should have played No. 5 in the Super 15 final in Hamilton. He is massive and bats as other big men have over the years, making the bowler wonder if there is actually a set of stumps behind the hulk standing at the other end.

Pietersen is, of course, completely unlikable and, even when given the benefit of the doubt, finds a way to piss on it. So he and David Warner would be prefect bedfellows really – which I hope they become.

KP is unlikable. Detestable actually, if you were in the crowd at Adelaide the day he celebrated his double hundred with an arms-raised march of triumph to deep third man (on a long oval) when it was clear he was expecting Miss Brahms to break ranks from the Barmy Army and leave some of her Loreal on his tummy banana. All he’d done was bullied Xavier Doherty and Marcus North in a way which you hardly noticed from the Chappell bar.

Not only is Pietersen unlikeable, he is unpleasant to watch. I’m not sure which English commentator suggested he had the presence of Viv Richards at the crease – it would have been Nasser or Strauss – but it was enough to keep me at the footy.

Zac Tuohy, by contrast, kicked a beautiful running goal from 50, and then followed it up with another, and the Blues were in it.

Starc got Cook, flicking at a glance which he got a bit on. But Brad Haddin thrust himself to his right to take a brilliant diving catch. Four down, and 400 ahead, and the pressure was on the home side. The Australians just needed one more. The quicks probed and probed.

Eventually Clarke threw the ball to Lyon who had the potential to do some damage if he was allowed to dictate terms. He had a nice breeze, a bit of turn, and importantly there was some bounce. Warney talked him up – and I reckon he was genuine. Pietersen and Bell, seeing no merit in the crease-anchored prod, went on the attack, lifting him over mid-on and mid-off for three superb sixes, winning the psychological battle. They virtually knocked him out of contention, which was disappointing. He’ll have another chance on the final day.

Freo landed some final-quarter blows on Carlton as well which made for some interesting Malthouse moments. But not as interesting as Nat Fyfe’s moments. The Dockers won a physical encounter and now enjoy a good run home.

More wood for the fire.

The Australians were up for the fight. The quicks – especially the two right-handers – did not shy away from their task for a second. Bowling at two top-quality Pommy bastards they tried everything. But the partnership crept along and it turned into a slow afternoon where wills battled. Jeffrey Robert Thomson was caught on camera asleep in the outer. Or was he dead? He appeared more dead when he smiled, his supa-white choppers looking like they’d been inserted especially for the journey to the after-life.

Watto was barely with us. He chased a square drive towards the point boundary as only Watto can. There was no hint of kelpie in it at all. It was the way you’d expect Garfield (the cat) to chase – only engaging in the exercise after the nod towards mid-off was unsuccessful.

But Watto was given his chance with the Duke. Always hard to get away, he bowled at the off-stump trying to produce the sort of delivery that would get himself out. Pietersen tried to change the length a little by inching forward and when on 62 he played across a straight one. Watson thought he had his man. But Pietersen’s mini-advance had taken him a stride down the track. That fooled the umpire who gave it not out.

Watson’s bottom lip came out. His brow creased. “That’s out,” he said to the committee in the cordon.

Clarke and Haddin folded their arms and from the corner of their mouths conversed – something about Watto and reviews no doubt. And maybe petulance. There was no review. Pietersen continued.

Over the next few minutes the whole ground looked to the dressing room and there was great amusement (in half the crowd) when it became known that a review would have seen the big lump on his way.

The Australians really are spooked.

Pietersen went on to make 113 – very patient in a time-consuming way in the second half of his innings.

Harris gave the Australians hope forcing a jaffa through Ian Bell which interrupted a Beefy Botham Scunthorpe story. For a moment, I thought Botham was going to finish the tale.

Australia fought through the final session and the Poms finished the day at 7/294.

This is set up for a cracking last couple of days where the Australians must bowl aggressively. Lyon is the key again. He has had half a dozen chances to bowl Australia to victory in the past couple of years. I hope, for his sake, his skipper has the choice to enforce the follow-on.

And that the weather remains colonial.




About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Great call re Watto and Garfield Harmsy.

    I’m still trying to get my head around the new ground orientation.

    Very different to 1997.

  2. You are correct; Pietersen is a very unlikeable South African. Imagine how unlikeable he’d be if he were English.
    This game is so beautifully balanced. No wonder the Yanks don’t get it.

  3. Great ramble JTH. The Avenging Eagle and I took in the Bootleg Beatles last night to lift the spirits after the Who Cares Cup.
    Couldn’t bear the thought of watching the Purple Scum. They were good things against a flaky side like the Navy Blues. Good to see that the Cats gave them their jumpers back before bounce down.
    Settled in for a late night cognac and the choice of the Test or the Rockwiz replay. Geez that Jens Lekman can play can’t he.
    The Manchester forecast has been heavy showers on Monday for the last week. Why get worked up for another version of the Who Cares Cup???
    Got Joan Baez and Paul Kelly’s ‘Spring and Fall’ concerts (what a bottler of an album) coming up in the next few weeks.
    Something really worth getting excited about.

  4. Cat from the Country says

    Oh how I love to read John Harms! He is a delight.
    I love the Cricket posts so I don’t have to stay up all night.
    Yes I tipped North a few times too. How could our Cats lose?

  5. Pamela Sherpa says

    I don’t have any problem liking KP. I LOVE watching him play . Superb cricketer . It was a treat to sit up and watch him last night. Ian Bell was marvellous to watch too.

  6. Galifianakis- (n) To be in the perpetual state of a hangover.
    “I’ve got such a galifianakis, it feels like a cocky has taken a dump in my mouth.”

  7. Converted to KP several years ago. Big fan.

  8. John, how can you ever bag a “ton” salute unless you concede that Hayden/Langer were embarrassing/indulgent?
    KP was a troubled person who I seriously disliked – good for the game…the bloke has spunk, talent and, surprisingly and in his own way, a respect for the game.

  9. The next two days are crucial to Nathan Lyon’s Test career. The Poms obviously don’t rate him: they targeted him yesterday, and succeeded. I know Swann is much more experienced, but it always seems like something is about to happen when Swann is bowling. If Lyon cannot pickup a few wickets, it may well be curtains for him…it’s now or never.
    When his career is over, I think Pieterson will be ranked among England’s all-time great batsmen. I am not a huge fan of the way he struts around the outfield, but have come to admire his batting. Despite often being ‘shaky’ early, at his best he his imperious, and really intimidates bowlers.
    Clarke’s captaincy annoyed me yesterday: should have thrown the ball to Smith earlier, and should not have given the second new pill to Starc, who bowled shite in that middle session and then wasted the new ball. The continuing refusal to reward Siddle with the new nut is ridiculous.

  10. The English weather forecasters have no idea. The outlook is constantly changing.
    Today the outlook is 18 with a 40% chance of rain.

  11. Smoke, Have you seen Smith bowl? Warner’s long hops are as good an option = 0. One over max. The temptation, of course, is to bowl the skipper, but his back is too precious to risk. Starc is a typical lefty – costly, infuriating and a point of difference. He could also help dig up the pitch which may be the only way Lyon might get wickets (though that might cause too many issues for Haddin!).

  12. KP is Watto with brains and commensurate street-smarts.

    He is the personification of the way professional sport is headed, which will provide the self-serving and self-absorbed with exactly what they want – until fans work out that it’s a crock and walk away. But that’s just me.

    It’s worth looking at the trail of yarns out of England from a while back when KP drove a wedge through the dressing room (again) with some interesting text messages.

    He is a thumping batsman who is very good – in this age.

    I’m not sure about the logic of your position Crio. My article is about KP. I didn’t like how M. Hayden and J. Langer celebrated either. But that is incidental. Again, my article is about KP. So here is my position (for the record): I’m not keen on self-absorbed cricketers who demonstrate their position through attention-demanding celebration.

    The KP Adelaide example was a classic of the genre. He waited for the photographers to get the shot that he knew would be front page around the world.

    In fact, he set it up for them. It was no coincidence that he got himself down to the pocket where the cathedral spire, the scoreboard and the Barmy Army would be in the background.

    Crikey, if I had my box browny I’d have been nominated for a sports photography award.

    It was a text book moment of the advancement of brand Pietersen.

    In his defence, he did need to score 200 in a Test match to be in that position.

  13. I watched him net one morning which totally changed my rating.
    Sorry if I was off-topic as I responded to comments without reading the article.
    I also like Watto.

  14. e.regnans says

    Thanks JTH for the grand report. I took in the action from a motel bed in Castlemaine. TV mounted on the wall. Watching from bed. A real novelty. Not to be repeated.
    If asked to choose between KP and S Broad, I’d leave the immediate area.
    Agree with the self-absorbed vibe. I wonder if this is a generational shift towards me-ism. (Lennon I think missed that one).
    All the best to N Lyon. I like the cut of M Clarke’s captaincy jib. Hope he gives the Lyon chance enough. Carna good guys.

  15. Andrew Starkie says

    KP – wanker. Aker syndrome. Tolerate him until his form drops off and then dump him. Quick. hard.

    Bell obviously doesn’t like him, they hardly spoke between overs or balls. Bell’s gone down in my books after his refusal to accept Smith’s word in the 2nd Test.

    Like the way Clarke kept field up when Bell and KP were teeing off on Lyon. 500 to play with, I suppose.

    Watto’s a contradiction – dumb batsman, smart bowler. Nice variations, sideway movement, drop and dip. Actually thought he looked like a baby hippo chasing that ball through point. He obviously didn’t like it.

    Must wrap Poms up quick smart. Still think we should’ve played Agar as well. Enforce follow-on if possible, we don’t have time to waste knocking up quick 200.

    Really hating Poms’ arrogance. Anderson, Broad and Swann congratulating eachother on reaching century mark in bowling figures. Flogs. Hope it comes back to bite them.

    Come on Aussie. This is our best chance.

  16. Andrew Starkie says

    Cook and trott still to hit their stride. Fearful of that.

    Bairstow runs like his legs have been roped together.

  17. Andrew Starkie says

    Smokie, agreed with Sidds comment. Rooboy is wasted. Should open.

  18. KP- wanker. No one’s disputed that. I used to reckon he was not a Test quality bat, with his unusual approach and confrontational character. He is a batter. He scores.
    Bell is a really good player. Technically one of my favs.
    The Poms are trying to aggravate and, clearly, it is working on you, Andrew. Hopefully the players are less vulnerable.
    Anderson is a gun.
    Swann is profiting from Australia’s selection of flaky lefties.

    re Watto – he bats as though against a bowling machine.
    He bowls as though he is the “target” – thus baffling them with movement..
    Fascinating character. admittedly annoying, but much better to have this team than the years of smug winners and “unchanged” lineups.

    Loving the cricket.

  19. Just want to mention that in ‘The Fiver’ column in The Guardian, they call Scunthorpe’s football team Firewall United.

  20. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Enjoyable Read JTH Any Politician who brings in Gay Marriage and then banishes
    Pieterson and Warner to Siberia gets my vote

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