Siddle hopeful of recovering for Perth
Peter Siddle expects he will be fit for the Perth Test, but won't know for sure until he bowls and fields at training on Thursday. Siddle's extreme workload during the Adelaide Test - he felt "a little bit delirious" by the time he sent down the last over of the match - was one of the reasons the Australia selectors named six fast bowlers in the squad for the third Test at the WACA, where a four-man pace attack is a strong possibility.
Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus shouldered heavy burdens at Adelaide Oval due to James Pattinson breaking down in South Africa's first innings, and while Hilfenhaus bowled 53.3 overs, it was Siddle's 63.5 overs that drew the most attention. It was not surprising that Siddle was squatting on his haunches between overs as the fifth day drew to a close, for he delivered more overs than any other Australia fast bowler has in a Test in the past 13 years.
The last to send down that many was Glenn McGrath, who bowled a remarkable 77 overs in Barbados in 1999 and backed it up with 63.1 when the Antigua Test started only three days later. But McGrath was freakishly indefatigable. The only other Australian quick to bowl as many in a Test as Siddle in the past 20 years was Craig McDermott, who sent down 68 overs in Adelaide in 1995 and strained his back in the next Test, although he returned later in the match and bowled Australia to victory.
Knowing the expectations that were placed on him and Hilfenhaus when Pattinson was injured, Siddle said he would not want to enter the Perth Test with any queries over his fitness. He will do some bowling at training on Thursday, the day before the match, but will work more on fielding and running and will discuss his readiness with the captain, Michael Clarke and the coach, Mickey Arthur, after that.
"I'll have to wait until tomorrow but at the moment I'm feeling good," Siddle said in Perth on Wednesday. "You never want to [pull out] but you've still got to think of the end result as well. Obviously I don't want to miss any Test matches but in the end if I'm struggling through tomorrow or If I don't feel 100% I've got to talk to the captain, the selectors and work out what's the best.
"You see the hard work we went through in the last match with someone breaking down after nine overs and the efforts Hilfy and myself had to go through to bowl those massive amount of overs. You don't want that happening again here, where it's such a big game and so much riding on the line of it. You want everyone to be right. So I just have to wait and see how I'm feeling and make a judgment after training tomorrow."
Should Australia decide not to risk Siddle, they have plenty of options in the squad. Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson provide left-arm variety and Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings will also come into consideration as steady right-armers. Australia must also see how Hilfenhaus recovers after Adelaide, although Siddle was the bigger worry after he fought through exhaustion on Monday evening to give Australia everything he could to deliver victory.
"It was a weird frame of mind. I was a little bit delirious," Siddle said of his last few overs. "I knew I just had to get back to the mark and charge in, bowl as fast as I could and try and get something out of it. That's what I knew I had to keep doing. I didn't really think about it too much, I just got back to the mark and kept going. It was a weird sort of feeling. Very tired and draining after the game, that's for sure.
"That's probably the most I've felt it out on the field. The heat was a lot warmer than we probably thought, out in the middle. It was very dry and very hard to get your breath in and very hot. It did take a lot out of us. Short, sharp spells and only having the two quicks that we had to bowl continually from one end, it did make it hard."
At least Siddle's enormous effort showed that his switch to a vegetarian diet hasn't affected his endurance. He might occasionally cop some grief from his team-mates for his new lifestyle but Siddle firmly believes his body has thanked him over the past couple of days.
"I've actually recovered a lot better than I thought I would," he said. "Everything's moving a lot better and I'm feeling a lot healthier. That's probably a massive part, being vegetarian is playing a big part and no alcohol has topped that off nicely. It's all working well at the moment and hopefully I can keep performing well and keep the body fit and strong."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here