West Indies in Australia 2015-16 December 6, 2015

Hungry Siddle's scant sympathy for West Indies

Peter Siddle: 'I think at this stage, I'm still essentially playing for my place' © Getty Images

Amid much hand-wringing and nostalgia for a bygone era of West Indies cricket, Australia's players are not allowing themselves to think of anything other than doing their very best to make life as difficult as possible for Jason Holder's beleaguered tourists.

While Cricket Australia's administrators deal with the dual issues of a poorly opponent and a problematic Hobart Test match likely to be watched by a disconcertingly small crowd, the players arrived in Hobart with their minds on matters of a more micro nature.

Not for them the high-minded questions of how to improve Caribbean cricket or draw a big gate to Bellerive Oval; simply the task, as Peter Siddle stated, of keeping West Indies down after they were well beaten by a modest CA XI in Brisbane. Playing and winning matches is Siddle's living, and the loss of his CA contract earlier this year - something he will now regain after resuming in the Test team - has left him very aware of what he must concentrate on.

"They have some strong weapons with their bowling attack," Siddle said on arrival in Hobart. "They can blast teams out when they bowl well. So I think that's going to be the big part. We're going to have to bat well against them I think. That's going to be their key, their bowling. And then we try and exploit their batting which won't be quite as strong.

"I haven't really taken too much notice [of the tour game]. The young Aussie side played a bloody good game up in Queensland, did well. You can't look too much into a tour match there, it's their first experience of getting on the shores and having a hit out. No doubt they'll come down here a lot more switched on and a lot more competitive side in the Test-match arena."

Though the series victory over New Zealand was welcome, this remains a transitional Australian side under a new captain in Steven Smith, with a bowling attack now relying very much on reserve strength after the retirement of Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson plus a foot injury to Mitchell Starc. Siddle was recalled in Adelaide, and after shrugging off a jarred back during that match is still striving to make his place secure again.

"I think at this stage, I'm still essentially playing for my place," he said on arrival in Hobart. "I guess being out of the side for so long and having a couple of games here and there makes you feel like that. At the moment it's just taking it game by game, which is what I was doing when I wasn't playing. Just making sure I prepare well and be ready to go and get out on the field and perform well.

"At the moment that's all it's about, just performing well this week in preparation, getting everything right, get the body right and be ready to go on game day. The West Indies are going to be a lot more competitive in the Test-match arena, so it's about getting through this first game and seeing where we end up after this."

Australia prospered by building pressure on New Zealand's batsmen in Adelaide, having struggled to do so earlier in the series in Siddle's absence. There will likely be more of the same in Hobart, against West Indies batsmen well known for showing a lack of application when denied plentiful scoring opportunities. As Siddle observed, what was good enough for Glenn McGrath will certainly work for his Australian successors.

"Glenn McGrath is probably the perfect example, I reckon," Siddle said. "He has been our greatest fast bowler. So I think that's a good example to go by and I've spoken to him a lot and tried building my game a little bit on him. How he was consistent, his patience and being able to work batsmen over.

"I think that's what I've shown over the last little bit, that's what I can do. I think it was a good example in Adelaide how the team as a bowling unit did that against someone like Kane Williamson who they thought wouldn't crack under the pressure of building pressure and patience. And we got him cheap both innings doing that and he's one of the class players in the Test arena over the last little bit. I think it'll work and it's shown it can work."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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