Mitchell Johnson today branded Kevin Pietersen a smart-arse as England and Australia turned on each other during a day of sledging flashpoints in Perth.
Australia landed the major blows on the field thanks to Johnson’s six for 35 that leaves them in charge of the match here at the WACA. Australia lead by 200 runs with seven second-innings wickets in hand, but it was the sight of both sides being so openly hostile towards one another that also made day two here such a memorable one.
Johnson gave Pietersen a loud send-off after trapping him lbw for a duck, apparently after the England batsman had sarcastically asked for his phone number. When Peter Siddle delivered a verbal volley at Matt Prior after taking his wicket, the England man seemed to offer Siddle the chance to continue their discussion after play, while Jimmy Anderson was also reprimanded by umpire Billy Doctrove following words aimed at Michael Clarke.
An ECB spokesman said neither Anderson nor any other England player had been reported to match referee Jeff Crowe, but Johnson believes the war of words can only help the home side.
“Pietersen was a being a bit of smart-arse,” said Johnson, who named Graeme Swann England’s wittiest sledger. “I didn’t give him my phone number, that’s for sure. I don’t think he was being friendly. I did say something to him, but I can’t say what.
“I enjoyed celebrating the wickets that I got today, and I was pretty happy to get Pietersen’s wicket. We want to get right up in their faces a bit more. You pick certain blokes out and we did that very well today.
“Prior obviously wasn’t very happy to get out. Peter Siddle was bowling into his ribs and I don’t think he liked it too much.
“We probably backed off (with sledging) and went into our shells a little bit in the last few years, and we’d decided we needed to get a little bit more fiery. England give it back to us as much as we give it to them.
“We have our moments and we get under each other skins at times. Pietersen does get under some blokes’ skins more than others, but I’m sure I get under a lot of their skins, so it goes both ways.”
Ian Bell top-scored for England with 53 as they were skittled for 187. The batsman insisted Johnson’s verbals had not affected the tourists. He added: “I don’t think Mitch was quite in our faces as much as he thinks he was. It was a bit of banter.
“He bowled very well but it’s one innings. If we can take early wickets tomorrow, it should make for a fantastic Test match.”
Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard.