Selectors have to opt for Siddle over Starc in first Ashes Test
Date: July 24, 2019 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
For mine, Peter Siddle needs to be amongst the names read out by chief selector, Trevor Hohns.
I would have him in the 17 alongside Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and comeback man, James Pattinson as the five-man pace arsenal.
Jhye Richardson would likely have been a walk up start had it not been for injury.
He is set to play his first match since damaging his shoulder in the UAE in March this weekend in a Twenty20 tournament in the Northern Territory.
A week out from the first Ashes Test he is no chance of making the cut.
Pattinson has been in rampant form since returning from his most recent injury woe.
He played the last seven matches of the Sheffield Shield season for Victoria, claiming 26 wickets at 18.9.
In 2017, squeezed in around his seemingly ever present injuries, he cut a swathe through the English County Championship during a brief five match first-class stint, capturing 32 wickets at 12.0.
By all accounts he bowled beautifully in the first innings of the current intra-squad match at Southampton, beating the bat with regularity and claiming 1-16 off ten overs and removed Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne in his opening spell in the second innings.
His first-class record is impeccable with 261 wickets at 21.6.
He was a dominant force in Test ranks before injury cut him down.
After being player of the match in two of his first three Tests he amassed 17 Tests in which he claimed 70 wickets at 26.1.
He may not be as sharp as his early days but his place in the squad, and I would think the first Test, is secure.
Cummins is an automatic selection.
He has assumed the mantle as Australia’s premier red-ball bowler since throwing off his persistent injury issues.
Twenty Tests have netted 94 wickets at 22.0.
He was at his lethal best again in the current intra-squad match with 5-24 in his first stint at the bowling crease with a red ball this campaign.
Hazlewood has also been a victim of the Australian injury curse.
Diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back at the end of the India Test series last summer he failed in his bid to be fit for the World Cup.
He has been nursed back into the fold through the recent AUS A tour of England.
His returns have been modest but his previous record in England – 16 wickets in four Tests at 25.7 – should he him selected in the squad.
His high action and stump to stump line should again be effective at stages throughout the series if he is in the eleven.
Starc is coming off a personally exhilarating and record breaking World Cup.
After a summer largely of discontent, he recaptured his best red-ball form in the final Test of the Australian summer with match figures of 10-100 against Sri Lanka at Canberra.
Seemingly, he is back at the peak of his powers.
However, I see his selection in this Ashes series as a genuine case of horses for courses.
And that is where I feel Siddle comes firmly into the equation.
His style is perfectly suited to England conditions and his record in the Old Dart shows that.
He is a seam up bowler who works the channel on and around off-stump.
If there is anything in the pitch he will exploit it with his nagging style.
Before joining the current expanded squad he turned out in eight matches for Essex where he captured 34 wickets at 20.0.
Last county season his seven-match stint with Essex produced 37 wickets at 16.4.
In the first innings of the intra-squad match he took 4-31 off 14 overs.
His Test record on English soil has been solid – 43 wickets at 28.4 in 11 Tests.
His last Test appearance in England came in the final match of the 2015 campaign at The Oval – his only game of the series – where he took 2-32 and 4-35.
While other pace bowlers in the expanded pre-Ashes squad have put in some solid performances ahead of the final squad being named none have the body of work in England that Siddle possesses.
Jackson Bird had planned to play county cricket for Northamptonshire in 2014 but was forced to withdraw with injury.
After being overlooked for the 2015 Ashes series he had a six-game stint that year with Hampshire during which he claimed 19 wickets at 39.7.
His one Test in England was at Chester-le-Street in 2013 where he returned figures of 2-125 in a 74-run loss.
Chris Tremain has been the leading wicket-taker across the past three Sheffield Shield seasons and Michael Neser is coming off a fine season for Queensland in which he took 33 wickets at 22.0 but neither of the pair have been tested in English conditions prior to this current Australia A tour.
This will be an interesting Ashes series pitch wise at will be the latest one has ever been held.
It could be expected that the pitches will lack the traditional green tinge that England decks are renowned for being so late in the summer.
Yet, the opening day of the England-Ireland Test at Lord’s overnight provide plenty of assistance for the quicks.
If any of the upcoming Tests are played on green seaming pitches I would have Siddle in the eleven alongside both Cummins and Pattinson, ahead of both Starc and Hazelwood.
Siddle’s approach could prove influential on conducive surfaces and more penetrative than Starc’s full throttle approach.
On more docile pitches I would lean towards Starc and his more explosive pace and potentially a greater prospect of old ball swing.
When 17 wickets fell for just 201 runs on a green seamer on the opening day of the intra-squad match Starc was the least successful and the most expensive of the quicks with figures of 0-38 off nine overs.
Across the board, all out pace bowling in English conditions has not proved overly effective for Australia.
Mitchell Johnson’s 12 Tests produced 38 wickets at 36.6; Brett Lee’s ten Tests 29 wickets at 45.4; and to date, Starc has taken 29 wickets at 31.2.
There will likely be a time to unleash Starc during this Ashes series but I would not discount using Siddle in his place when the pitches carry a tinge.
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 24 July 2019, soliciting 134 comments