March 12, 2009

Australian cricket

Siddle gets his chants back

Brydon Coverdale
Peter Siddle yells in celebration, South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day, February 28, 2009
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Peter Siddle is learning that what goes around comes around. Ten years ago he used to sit at the MCG and join in the nasty chants about opposition players. Now he’s on the receiving end. “Siddle’s a wanker” has become something of a series catchphrase in South Africa. The fans would never admit it but it’s a perverse mark of respect.

Richard Hadlee was the target of similar jeers in Australia during the 1980s and Siddle recalls handing out the same treatment to Courtney Walsh. There was a fitting symmetry when Siddle ran in to the rhythm of the chants in South Africa; Walsh was watching on from the commentary box.

“It is a bit weird. I was always watching the Test matches where they were getting into Warney or Merv Hughes,” Siddle said. “I remember actually going to the Boxing Day Test and even joining in when they were getting into whatever player. It might be Courtney Walsh or anyone down on the boundary there in bay 13, getting into them.

“It is sort of weird actually being out on the field and there's chanting and they are getting into you. I was thinking, ten years ago I was doing the same thing. It has been fun and interesting and it's just something I've got to deal with I guess.”

Siddle has become something of a cult figure in South Africa, where one particular newspaper is obsessed with his so-called “man boobs”. Man boobs, muscle, what’s the difference. It’s splitting hairs. As long as he realises the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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