Answering Gambhir's jibe
As rejoinders go, Peter Siddle's to Gautam Gambhir could not have been any more emphatic. Siddle's summer had been going swimmingly until Gambhir attempted to get under the Australian's skin in the prelude to the Adelaide Test. He contended that Siddle had not improved at all since his debut in 2008, simply enjoying the benefits of favourable home conditions, and challenged the bowler to come back to India and show his worth in subcontinental climes.
Adelaide Oval is not quite Mumbai or Mohali, but its pitch is the closest thing India will get to a home surface in Australia. Slower and lower in pace and bounce, and offering significantly less sideways movement than any other surface this summer, it presents a singular challenge for a fast bowler.
Aware of Gambhir's words and the nature of the surface, Siddle responded in the best manner imaginable by carving a five-wicket hole in India's first innings. Among those was Gambhir, who was surprised by the bounce Siddle could generate from the surface and fended a catch to gully. Siddle wasted little time reminding Gambhir of his jibe afterwards.
"I guess Gambhir thought I'd had the luck of the green wickets, but I guess there wasn't much bounce in this wicket today and it seemed to get him out, so it was a nice little reward on a wicket that's pretty hard to bowl on," Siddle said. "It's probably one of my better ones I think, all summer my goal has been patience and consistency and I think I've been doing that and going pretty well. But today it was a bit of a relief to get that haul and a reward for a summer that had been pretty good. It is a good little reward for that."
The rewards were due, given how successfully Siddle has worked to rejuvenate himself as a more incisive bowler over the past six months. His guidance from Craig McDermott has been cited at length, but Siddle said it had even been helpful in recent times to hear the reassuring words from the coach that a decent haul of wickets would invariably result from his efforts.
"The hard work I've put in in the last six or seven months, this summer it's just all come together," Siddle said. "That's just the work I've put in personally on the fitness and strength side side of things and then the work with Billy [McDermott] to get where I am. It's paying off, I'm not getting too overawed with what I had done earlier in the summer, and just keep working hard.
"Billy kept saying to me the haul was around the corner, around the corner. He's been saying that for a few matches now but to finally get it here is very pleasing and I'm obviously grateful for all the people that have helped me to get here."
Those people have included the other members of Australia's pace attack, who in Adelaide were Ben Hilfenhaus and Ryan Harris. Both delivered strong morning spells without reward, as Siddle again took advantage of their slipstream for the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar in his second over. Harris later broke a pesky stand between Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha, while Hilfenhaus helped skewer the tail.
"Ben and Ryan this morning bowled superbly, they bowled great partnerships, back-to-back maidens, and they just built the pressure up," Siddle said. "I've been pretty lucky this summer I've been on the back-end of a lot of that. I have been lucky to come on in the first over and get the wicket because the change has caught the batsman and I've got the wicket.
"The pressure we built up again today and the way we bowled together as a unit just shows the patience we're using and someone's lucky enough to get the rewards and at the end of the day it was me."
With a first innings lead of 332, Australia had plenty of time to consider the enforcement of the follow-on, but the captain Michael Clarke preferred to give his bowlers a rest and the wicket more time to deteriorate. Not surprisingly, Siddle had no qualms about the decision.
"The Adelaide wicket's one you don't want to be batting on last, so we didn't think too much about that," Siddle said. "It was just a matter of batting for a bit of time, getting a bit of time into the game but also trying to get some runs and bat them out of the game. There's still plenty of time left now."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here