Back Pietersen to be thorn in side of Aussie bowlers

Kevin Pietersen will have mixed emotions about his Test match debut against Australia at Lord’s back in the heady and historic summer of 2005.

It was all going swimmingly when Steve Harmison ran through the tourists, taking 5-43 and restricting them to just 190 on day one.

But when Glenn McGrath skittled England for an even less convincing 155 it heralded an unlikely 239-run away win. And yet if anyone defied the Aussies, and set the tone for a series England eventually won, it was the Pietermaritzburg-born peacock with the outrageous plumage.

The haircut may be more conservative these days, but KP has regularly troubled Australia since his flamboyant 158 at the Oval in September that year.

He recorded his ninth Test fifty against them in Nottingham last week – and I fully expect him to perform at Lord’s too.

In Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott England have two remorseless compilers of runs who can grind out a win through force of will.

But in Pietersen they have a rare individual with the ability to demoralise the opposition through audacious shot selection. Sporting Index have set his total match runs at 81-87, lower only than Cook and Trott, and at that price I’m happy to buy.

I’m also tempted by Paddy Power’s 4/1 about him being England’s top run-scorer, assuming his 64 at Trent Bridge is an aperitif to an even sweeter second course.

His average in Tests at Lord’s is 61.40, rising to 65.66 against the Aussies, and I see no reason why that won’t continue.

Brad Haddin and Ashton Agar led the way for Australia last time in the most unlikely of circumstances, hitting 179 of the team’s 280 first innings runs between them.

But in his carefully-compiled 52, Chris Rogers sent a message to England and successive selectors who’d handed him just one cap before then.

He has been in fine form on this ground already this season, hitting a double century for Middlesex against Surrey and 184 against Sussex.

Rogers also holds the rare distinction of a double century against Australia for Leicestershire in 2005, despite being urged to fall on his sword by Matthew Hayden. With defiance like that he is worth backing at 6/1 with Coral to be top Australia batsman. I’ll also be a buyer of his match runs too, with Sporting Index at 64.

All batsmen have the ability to let you down, but these two do so less than most.

■ Pointers…
Buy Kevin Pietersen match runs at 87 on Sporting Index
Chris Rogers to be top Australia’s top first innings run-scorer at 6/1 with Coral