November 3, 2009

Australia

Siddley the soap-opera star

Andrew Hughes


Siddle: refreshingly toxic © Getty Images
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Cricket is like a soap opera and if you don’t watch every episode, you’ll find yourself failing to recognise some of the characters. For instance if you were one of those heathens who put your hands over your ears, closed your eyes and made “La la la la!” noises during the Champions League, you will find yourself at something of a disadvantage during the current 50-over bash in India.

Of course, some of the old characters that you know and love are still around. There’s grizzled old Punter, who is always grumbling but secretly has a heart of gold; saintly Uncle Sachin, who listens to everyone’s problems without ever complaining; and the villainous Bhaji, who is pretending to have turned over a new leaf, but who everyone knows is bound to do something despicable any day now.

But now that our Australian chums are starting to come apart like badly assembled action figures (these plastic Paines, Clarkes and Lees might look sexy but they just don’t have the staying power of those clunky old Aussies you got in the seventies), the selectors are being forced to reach deeper into the back of the domestic-cricket fridge, past the leftovers and those on the turn, to see if there’s anything they can use. As a result, for the casual non-Australian cricket watcher, parts of the scorecard might as well be written in Klingon. Henriques? Bollinger? McKay?

But here’s where the Champions League comes in. Those of us who watched (nearly) every twist and turn of that pilot show are fully up to speed on these new characters and are able to avoid some embarrassing faux pas when discussing the current series with taxi drivers, undercover vice-squad officers or members of Parliament.

We know, for example, that Clint McKay is not the cheroot-chomping, Stetson-wearing sidekick of cowboy Jesse Ryder. Moises Henriques is not the dictator of a small island off the Mozambique coast with a solid gold throne and a personal bodyguard of Amazonian mercenaries. And Doug Bollinger is not a cartoon character devised to help sell champagne to the Australian market.

In fact, these three have something else in common. They all come from the shelf marked, “medium”. We can quibble about which is medium-fast or which is fast-medium, but essentially, they all fall into that large grey area on the bowling speed dial between “Collingwood” and “Steyn”.

Now I have to say that this is one plot development that I have my doubts about. There is always room for one trundler in an Australian side. But it goes somewhat against the laws of cricket nature to see so many yellow-shirted warriors whose game plan is not the reassuringly savage “hit ‘em in the face and make ‘em bleed” but the rather English “kind of put it on a length and wobble it about a bit”.

Thank goodness, then, for Peter Siddle. If he'd been born in Todmorden rather than Traralgon, he'd probably be saddled with some nursery-rhyme nickname like Siddley or Siddles. Instead, he goes by the name of Vicious. He used to tear down trees with his bare hands (probably) and now he hurts batsmen for a living. He is Merv Hughes with a razor and access to a treadmill. Good on yer, Siddley.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by matt on (December 20, 2009, 10:05 GMT)

most amusing article I've read for a long time. It still Australia won the ODI series.

Posted by Vikrant on (November 5, 2009, 9:42 GMT)

loved this part

"We know, for example, that Clint McKay is not the cheroot-chomping, Stetson-wearing sidekick of cowboy Jesse Ryder. Moises Henriques is not the dictator of a small island off the Mozambique coast with a solid gold throne and a personal bodyguard of Amazonian mercenaries. And Doug Bollinger is not a cartoon character devised to help sell champagne to the Australian market."

Posted by shayne forster on (November 5, 2009, 7:35 GMT)

Siddle is no trundler. He bowls at 145kph a lot of the time.i can see the 70s comparison but give me Lillee Thomson and Pascoe anytime.The day when chest hair and gold chains reigned supreme.These boys terrified the opposition just running up to bowl and they bowled consistantly very fast indeed. Todays boys are just pretenders .I like Siddles whole hearted approach to the game and hes no show pony like Lee who spends most of his time checking his speed after every delivery.Siddles bowls the heavy ball and jars batsmans hands and runs in hard all day

Posted by Tanmay on (November 5, 2009, 6:06 GMT)

I think Henriques took this article to heart, and promptly joined the sick list. Be careful of what you say Andrew! You don't know who's going to be next after this...

Posted by twelfth man on (November 5, 2009, 5:21 GMT)

Nice article! I’m definitely a big fan of P-Siddy.....

Posted by Michael on (November 5, 2009, 3:23 GMT)

Merv Hughes? All bluff and huff. All those test matches he played ought to have been played by Mike Whitney!

Posted by sridhar on (November 4, 2009, 3:11 GMT)

Yes Siddle is a throw back to the old days. Give the ball an old fashioned thump if you are a batsman and breathe fire and brimstone when you come steaming in, give it everything you have , it might be your last ball. And that seems to be true with the spate of injuries that teams are going through, and the no 1 team in the world is showing the way. Thank God for punter , who still seems to be in some sort of control and is leading hs team riddled with injuries and each day he is leading someone he has never played against or heard of, given the fact that he hardly plays domestic cricket in Australia. Who knows some of these players might make a big impact. Bollinger has been waiting in the wings for ever and seems to be takingn his chances, till he gets injured that is! sridhar

Posted by Jack G on (November 4, 2009, 0:41 GMT)

Peter Siddle is great. If I met him the pub I'd shake his hand... then leave before he started a fight.

Posted by Steve on (November 3, 2009, 20:27 GMT)

Very amusing - why can't more cricket writers write this sort of stuff? I get bored with all the articles about the magnificence and superlativeness of some over-groomed poser with David Beckham's brain. To say nothing of the awestruck comments that follow some very, very ordinary interview with them from their besotted fans. More Hughes!

Posted by Andy on (November 3, 2009, 20:04 GMT)

Ponting having a secret heart of gold? and bhajji will always do the next despicable thing? seriously, bhajji didnt claim a catch after picking it up off the turf. Ponting is a wonderful batsman, but to call him as having a heart of gold is like saying mike tyson is secretly a pacifist.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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