Siddle the go to man in the Aussie pace battery
Date: December 21, 2012 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Peter Siddle is living proof of the adage, “from opportunity comes success”.
In the wake of a litany of injuries among Australia’s fast bowling ranks, Siddle has been the man to answer his captain’s call.
From humble beginnings, the Victorian quickie has made himself into a first-pick player for his country.
He was selected for the four-Test tour to India in late-2008 on the back of just 12 first-class appearances, in which he captured 43 wickets at a highly credible average of 24.
With an elbow injury forcing Stuart Clark out of the second Test in Mohali, Siddle got his chance.
His call-up caused a flurry of activity at his parents’ home back in Melbourne.
His mother and father – Steve and Allison – hastily organized flights so that they could be on hand to see their son make his debut beneath the baggy green.
It was a memorable time for the pair as they had never been outside Australia before, and whilst the flights were reasonably easy to ascertain, accommodation proved a more difficult exercise.
In the end they found themselves bunking down with Jim Maxwell, Mike Coward and myself in a private home that had been recommended to us by a journalist friend in Delhi.
It was an odd experience having breakfast with a couple who were just an hour or two away from seeing their son make his Test debut thousands of kilometres from home and I dare say that Peter was far less anxious than his parents.
As it turned out Australia was in the field on the opening day with India winning the toss.
After Brett Lee sent down the opening over it was Siddle’s turn, and what a memorable start he made with his first ball in Test cricket, a bouncer that smashed into the side of Gautam Gambhir’s helmet.
It took until a few overs before stumps for the debutant to claim his maiden wicket and what a scalp it turned out to be – Sachin Tendulkar caught by Hayden in the gully for 88 on the day that he surpassed Brian Lara to become the heaviest scorer in the history of Test cricket.
Siddle bowled 43 overs in the match for a return of 4/176.
With Clark fit for the next encounter in Delhi, he found himself on the outer.
He returned to the team for the first Test against South Africa at the WACA Ground in December that year.
From that point on, apart from a brief spell in Sri Lanka in September last year where he wasn’t chosen in the first two Tests, he has only missed matches through injury.
Along the way he has seen his stocks rise, culminating in the situation he has found himself in in recent weeks, as the leader of the Australian attack.
In the absence of Mitchell Johnson from the Test arena it has been Siddle who has taken up the role as the enforcer.
Much was made in the media of his background as a wood-chopper in the early stages of his international career, and whilst it was not to the level that many portrayed, he has shown of late the tough, strong and focused attributes associated with the men who wield the axe.
His performance in Adelaide against South Africa last month was testimony to his never-say-die attitude as he literally bowled himself into the ground.
With James Pattinson succumbing to injury during the match it was Siddle who principally took on the added burden, sending down 64 overs across the last four days and gallantly going to within an ace of securing his country the victory.
At the end of the match, an excruciating draw for Australia, Siddle had the look of a boxer staggering into the corner in search of his cut man.
It was considered that his undertaking in the City of Churches was too great for him to back up for the series decider in Perth.
Well rested, he led the attack in Hobart this past week in the opening encounter against Sri Lanka, winning the man-of-the-match award for his match figures of 9-104.
Once again, it was Siddle who principally filled the void of yet another fast bowler – this time Ben Hilfenhaus who suffered a side strain during Sri Lanka’s first innings.
During Michael Clarke’s tenure as captain it has been Siddle that he has tossed the ball to more often than not when he needs a breakthrough.
And, on most occasions, the 28-year-old has obliged.
There appears to be little science about the way Siddle goes about his day’s work and that is in no way meant as a put down.
He simply gives the impression that he is hewn from the same rock that has produced many of this country’s big-hearted fast bowlers.
In the approach to his craft he seems very much in the mould of fellow Victorian paceman Merv Hughes.
Like Hughes, he can always be relied upon to give his skipper 100 per cent regardless of the scoreboard or the conditions.
Siddle is an old-fashioned run-up hard, hit the deck hard type of bowler.
Body permitting, he may still have a good five or six years left in him and with a current tally of 135 wickets from 35 Tests, he could well be a candidate for the 300 club.
When the likes of Pattinson and Patrick Cummins eventually string together some consistent Test cricket, Siddle may find the reliance on him lessened.
But, regardless of the how the future unfolds, he is a man who ticks all the right boxes as far as his skipper is concerned.
He may be a no-frills cricketer who has the aura of a country lad about him but make no mistake, Peter Siddle is one of the most crucial cogs in this current Australian Test team.
And for opposing batsmen, the prospect of facing him in the years to come will be akin to coming up against the Spanish Inquisition, for win or lose, you know it’ll be painful.
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 20 December 2012