Siddle to join Essex for T20
Peter Siddle, the Australia fast bowler, will play for Essex during this season's Friends Life t20 competition. He becomes the county's second overseas signing after Alviro Petersen, who is due to arrive at the County Ground, Chelmsford for a two-month stint at the start of April.
Essex were linked with Siddle last season but a deal could not be agreed. Instead, Lonwabo Tsotsobe was brought in for an ill-fated spell, before New Zealand pair Scott Styris and Tim Southee joined for the FLt20. Styris has agreed to play for Sussex in the competition this season, while Southee is likely to be unavailable to due his international commitments.
Siddle has recently been earmarked as a Test specialist by the Cricket Australia selectors, suggesting that he won't be needed for Australia's ODI series against England in June and July. Subject to clearance, he will experience county cricket for the first time on June 13 against Surrey - and may have to decide which side to cheer on two weeks later when the Australians arrive for a 50-over tour match against Essex.
"We are delighted to have signed Australia's premier bowler in Test cricket," Essex head coach Paul Grayson said. "Australia are looking keep him fresh for their schedule and for Peter, this will be a chance for him to enhance his one-day skills.
"With Tim Southee not coming back, it leaves us light in our bowling line-up so it will be good to bring him alongside Graham Napier. We are all very excited to be bringing in a world-class bowler for our FLt20 campaign."
Siddle, who claimed a hat-trick in the first Test of the 2010-11 Ashes, has taken 114 Test wickets at 29.03 since his debut in 2008 but last played limited-overs cricket for Australia in 2010. He was a member of the Melbourne Stars squad for the Big Bash League - although he didn't play a game due his involvement in the Test series against India - and has taken 15 T20 wickets, with an economy of 7.45, in his career.
Essex have reached T20 finals day three times - most recently in 2010, when their decision to bus in Dwayne Bravo as a one-off signing backfired - but despite their reputation as a strong one-day side have never won the competition. Last season they finished sixth in the South Group, with as many wins (seven) as defeats.