Being dropped in Sri Lanka turned things around - Siddle
Peter Siddle, Australia's rejuvenated fast bowler who's taken 11 wickets in this series at an average of 22.18, has said his being dropped in Sri Lanka turned things around for him. That snub in Sri Lanka last year, he says, made him work harder and come back a better, and more importantly a fitter, bowler.
"I'd like to think so [the fittest he has been]," he said. "I'm feeling good. It's a good change I guess, probably over the last five or six years I've been up and down with injury and had some tough times, but I think the disappointment of getting dropped in Sri Lanka sort of did hit a bit of a spot in me, and I knew I had to work on a few things.
"Ever since then I've been a bit stronger, and bowling well and injury-free. Everything I'm doing at training and in preparation for games is working, so I'll stick to that and hopefully I can keep going well for my team and we keep winning Test matches."
Last week Siddle picked up his 100th Test wicket, into the fourth year of an up-and-down, in-and-out career. "It's obviously a big achievement but I don't want to stop there," he said. "I want to keep taking wickets and whether that's a 110 or a 150 or 300, you never know but at the moment I just want to keep playing Test matches, staying on the park and keep performing well for my team.
"Whenever I retire down, I'll look back on it but at the moment it's all about just keep moving forward each game and hopefully doing enough to keep winning Test matches for Australia."
Sachin Tendulkar - whom he famously described as "Peter Siddle's first wicket" - has been dismissed by Siddle thrice. Two of those dismissals came when Tendulkar looked good for a century. One of them was on Siddle's debut, the other two in the first Test of this series. "I think it's just a plan I'm going with," Siddle said of bowling to Tendulkar. "I'm being a lot more consistent than I have been in the past.
"I'm probably lucky enough I've got him two times in Melbourne, but obviously in Sydney a couple of other blokes got him. We're building the pressure, and whether it's against Sachin or against [Rahul] Dravid, any of their batters, if I can build the pressure and it happens from the other end, we're going to get the breakthrough. There's no big plans in the way we go about it, it's just about all three or four quicks or five bowlers bowling together in those partnerships to create the wickets."
One of the important men of that partnership, James Pattinson, is now out with a foot injury. That shouldn't change things too much, Siddle feels. "Rhino [Ryan Harris] is pretty much an exact replacement," Siddle said. "He's a little bit smaller than Patto, but yeah 145k outswingers isn't a bad bloke to come in and replace him. He's definitely a player that can fill that role perfectly."
Siddle said that even though Harris has not got much first-class cricket under his belt after the injury, he is ready and has been bowling enough overs in the nets "against our batters in a fierce rivalry".
Siddle didn't commit as to whether Australia will play four fast bowlers on this green pitch. "You never know with the wicket," he said. "At the moment it does look good, but we're still a fair few days out. It [four quicks] worked last year for us, but the wicket was pretty green. It was a nice wicket and we were lucky that we batted well enough to give us enough chance with the ball."
Siddle spoke of how tough it can be to face four fast bowlers. "On this ground sometimes, obviously [with] the pace and bounce, if the wicket does suit that it is very tough work," he said. "It's hard, you got the quicks coming at you hard and fast non-stop all day, which does build a lot of pressure. I think if we go that way, and we stick to obviously the consistency and patience that we've had out in the middle, the way we've been building the pressure, I think it can be obviously an exciting time to watch us go about it."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo