England conundrum amuses Siddle
Peter Siddle, the Australia fast bowler, is amused by England's possible turn towards the veteran batsmen Mark Ramprakash and Marcus Trescothick for next week's series-decider at The Oval. The contest is level at 1-1 but England must win to regain the Ashes and are looking at a variety of options to cover their under-performing middle order, which failed twice in the innings-and-80-run loss at Headingley.
There is a growing push for either the 39-year-old Ramprakash or Trescothick, who retired from the international scene in 2008, to make a one-off comeback. Ricky Ponting was the first Australian to find humour in his opponents' scenario after the game at Leeds, and Siddle has joined in.
"We've heard the rumours and seen the footage on the TV that Mark Ramprakash might be recalled for The Oval, and Marcus Trescothick's name has been mentioned as well," Siddle wrote on www.wisdencricketer.com. "It's funny to look at in a way, but we'll just prepare how we normally do. It doesn't matter to us what side England put out, we're still going out to try and beat them at The Oval."
Siddle felt an "older bloke" might be able to deal with the high-stakes situation better than Ravi Bopara, England's "struggling" No. 3. "He's an attacking player and likes to play his shots, but the pressure of coming in so early on a wicket that you needed to dig in a little bit on looked to be on his mind," he said. "It'll be up to the England selectors to decide whether they want to stick with him, it's harder on them too when it's a young bloke that's struggling, an older bloke will know his game a little better and be able to deal with the situation."
In Leeds Siddle produced a career-best 5 for 21 in the first innings as England were bowled out for 102 on the opening day. The haul eased the pressure on his position after he was unsure whether he would be picked, with Stuart Clark and Brett Lee also pushing hard for places.
"I knew I hadn't been quite at my best through the series, so it was a bit of a nervous wait, but luckily for me I got to stay in and Nathan Hauritz, who has been outstanding, was the one to miss out," he said. "To then go on and take a first Ashes five-for was a very proud moment for me."
Siddle, who now has 16 wickets at 29.50, expected more of a fight from the hosts at Headingley. "I was a little bit surprised by how easily England folded in Leeds, but it was the best we'd bowled all tour," he said, "and probably the best all-round bowling performance I've been involved in since I came into the side."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo