Sparkling Pietersen provides bonus for England

Kevin Pietersen is the darling of the England team once again – for his golden-arm bowling as well as his world-class batting.

England gave themselves a shot at victory in the second Ashes Test thanks not only to Pietersen's career-best 227 but the priceless wicket of Michael Clarke, delivered by the man of the moment with the last ball before stumps on day four at the Adelaide Oval.

England's champion off-spinner Graeme Swann voiced his own gratitude, after Pietersen had shown him how to get rid of one of Australia's best batsmen – just when Clarke and Michael Hussey were threatening to stall England's pursuit of a 1-0 series lead.

Pietersen began his day's work by completing his highest Test score, having hit 33 fours and a six from 308 balls, before England finally declared on 620-5.

Then after Swann had snared Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting but then gone 20 more overs without another wicket, Pietersen needed only eight deliveries of his own brand of off-spin to shift Clarke.

His first Test wicket since July 2008, and only the fifth of his career, could not have been more timely for an England team unable until then to break a fourth-wicket stand of 108 for 33 overs.

With Clarke gone for 80, the hosts closed on 238-4 – still 137 runs short of making England bat again and needing to bat throughout the final day, or hope more forecast rain materialised.

Swann was thankful, to Pietersen and his captain Andrew Strauss for tossing his team-mate the ball.

"It was one of those sessions where I felt the world was against me," he said, reflecting on his lack of success after tea.

"Sometimes the best captains in the world are the ones who just say 'take a break, mate'. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed to be taken off. But it's great when Kev can come on and do that.

"For the last session, it was tough going with their two best players of spin at the crease, both playing well. Sometimes you need a bit of inspiration – and who else but KP to come on and give you it?"

Swann's rise to No 1 in the international rankings for spin bowlers means much has been, and will continue to be, expected of him this winter. But he added: "Personally, I couldn't give a monkey's who gets the wickets.

"I'm so glad KP got that one in the last over, because Clarke is their best player of spin and to get him out like that was magic.

"It is sod's law – but I love sod's law sometimes. It's a massive bonus for us."

It gave Swann the opportunity, too, to confirm Pietersen is not an 'outcast' in his team-mates' eyes, as Shane Warne suggested last week.

"The only people who say he's an outcast are those not in our group," he said. "He's as popular a member of our dressing room as anyone else. We absolutely love KP, especially when he's getting a double-hundred and taking their best player out in the last over."

Even so, Swann will happily direct Pietersen back to his day job and take over the wicket-taking duties again himself now he knows he is bowling as well as he can, having had a tough first Test against Hussey in particular last week.

"As the only spinner in the side – he's probably listening – it's important on the last day I get the ball from one end and bowl," said Swann.

"Hussey's a good player, but my mother could have beaten me all over the place on that first morning at Brisbane. I was dreadful.

"There were little pockets there where I bowled like a 12-year-old, which is disappointing in the first game of an Ashes series."

Hussey punished Swann at the Gabba but knows it is a rarity to be able to take such liberties against his former county team-mate these days.

The Australian said: "He's definitely improved out of sight since I played with him at Northamptonshire.

"I remember he'd bowl these amazing deliveries, and then just let the pressure off with one or two bad balls an over.

"Now he's on the money all the time, hardly bowls a loose ball."

Hussey gave Strauss credit for the bowling change with brought Clarke's departure just before stumps, bat-pad after Pietersen overturned Tony Hill's not-out verdict via DRS.

"It was a bit of a kick in the guts to lose that one in the last over, but we're still in there fighting," he said. "Sometimes when someone's having a great game, it's not a bad idea to give them a chance with the ball as well. Sometimes they can pull off something special – like he did."

Clarke felt the need to apologise publicly, on his Twitter feed, for not walking when he knew he was out. Hussey could tell his partner was gone too.

"By the time I'd turned around, they'd pretty much 'referred' it straight away – and I could tell in Michael's body language that he thought he was out," said Hussey.

"He's pretty distraught at the moment."