The Ashes 2013: The Characters - Peter Siddle
In the run-up to the first day of the Ashes, a lot of talk was about how Australia had brought their weakest squad to England in the history of the Ashes. Even when the relentless media pressure on the Australians was released a little, the positive comments were reserved for Australia’s young pace battery constituted by Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson. However, as the curtains were raised on the first day at Trent Bridge, it was Peter Siddle who hogged all the limelight.
Siddle began the riot by dismissing England opener Joe Root, who had looked rather comfortable on the crease before a swinging yorker from Siddle threatened to leave him toe-less. Peter Siddle had only ambled-in prior to that ball and did not look particularly dangerous but he was energized after that first wicket. He needed to put his hand up at that moment as the experienced bowler of the side when Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson looked as if they were struck by nervousness on the occasion of their Ashes debut.
Siddle’s five-for included the prized scalp of Jonathan Trott who was looked dangerous going into lunch. He had breezed to a score of 48 before Siddle floated a juicy, tempting out-swinger and Trott complied by inside-edging the ball onto the stumps. He broke the ranks of the English middle-order by picking up the wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell in quick succession.
This was not the first time Siddle exhibited his talent on the first day of an Ashes Test. He did the same in the 2010-11 Ashes that was played down under picking up 6 wickets at the Gabba.
His Ashes record is more than satisfactory and that’s why he received the nod from the selectors. He took 20 wickets in the 2009 series that was played in England, bowling a match winning spell at Headingley in the process. He backed that up with 14 wickets in 2010-11 in a series that was generally glum for the Australian bowlers. His selection ahead of the likes of Ryan Harris in the first XI for the Trent Bridge test was skeptically viewed but it took him little time to dispel those doubts.
Siddle plays a critical role in this side for multiple reasons. He is one of the leaders in a side that has a huge number of players who have not tasted the unique pressure and rivalry of the Ashes so far. He will have to guide the raw talent of James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc who have played less than 20 Test matches between each other as compared to Siddle’s 41 appearances.
He talked about that aspect of his role ahead of the Ashes. He said, ” When I came into the side I was pretty lucky. I had a pretty good bond with Brett Lee, and there was also Stuart Clark around for me to look up to and use for information. One of my roles now is to pass on some of the stuff I learned off the great players and it is exciting to be working with the young guys: Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc.”
He has an incredible work-ethic and is ever competitive like a player wearing a baggy green should be. He is a huge resource for the captain given that he is a work-horse and can take a heavier work load. He runs in with equal intensity to deliver every ball. In the absence of a quality spinner, Michael Clarke will be depending upon him to plug one end.
He does not derive prodigious swing nor can he swing the ball both ways with equal comfort like James Anderson. He relies on his stock-ball that is the out-swinger to the right-handed batsman and bowls in speed range of 85-87 mph which is slower than both Starc and Pattinson. However, he is a bowler who knows his limitations.
Siddle exercises great control over his line and length and rarely bowls a half-volley. When Pattinson and Starc were bowling wide outside the off-stump in the first few overs of the first day at Trent Bridge wasting all the swing they were extracting from the condition, Siddle found his radar and bowled in that corridor of uncertainty making batsman commit to a shot.
The fact that Australia’s batting line-up looks weaker than ever before means that the bowlers will have to take that extra bit of responsibility. Peter Siddle has lead the way for Australia so far but he will have to put up such performances rather consistently this year in order to give his side a competitive chance against England. He is certainly not one who will feel burdened by that responsibility, rather he will feel challenged and will try to rise to the occasion.