Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Monty Tells Aussies to Lay off Pietersen

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Monty Tells Aussies to Lay off Pietersen

Article excerpt

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

Monty Panesar has made a strong defence of Kevin Pietersen by insisting Australia have chosen the wrong player to accuse of failing to be a team man.

Pietersen has been the focal point for Australia's attempts to undermine England with coach John Buchanan accusing the South African-born batsman of being a loner and showing little signs of unity with the rest of the squad.

But 24-year-old left-arm spinner Panesar has forged an unexpected alliance with Pietersen this tour and has refuted the allegations by explaining how helpful the Hampshire batsman has been.

He has already helped Panesar improve as a batsman, helping him to hit an unbeaten 16 and play his part in a 40-run last wicket partnership with Steve Harmison during the third Test in Perth.

Panesar, though, has revealed how Pietersen has also helped him develop bowling strategies against the attacking Australian batsman.

"He's always helping me in the nets," explained Panesar. "He purposely creates a situation where he looks to come after me a little bit or looks to be positive in the same way the Australians play.

"It's given me good practice and he gives me good advice on how to counteract them coming after me, maybe by varying the pace or changing the angles.

"He's been a great team player with me, he's always there to help me. Even when I'm batting he tries to help me out. He can be in the other net and he may see what I'm doing and advise me on my balance or whatever.

"I don't know where these comments have come from, but the experiences of myself and the rest of the team is that Kevin Pietersen is always there helping us and he's been a good team man."

Panesar's strident defence follows Pietersen's own insistence he is more committed than ever to succeeding with England although his performances during the series ( he is the tourists' leading scorer with 420 runs ( have been tarnished by defeats in the first four Tests. Indeed, far from undermine the morale of the squad going into today's final Test at the SCG ( Panesar believes Buchanan's comments may even have strengthened it. …

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