'Big role' for Australia's fast men in India - Siddle
Australia's spearhead Peter Siddle believes pace bowling will be the key against India on the upcoming Test tour, despite the likelihood that the matches will be played on pitches offering significant spin. The first group of Australia's Test players flew out for India on Thursday while many of their team-mates remained at home to take on West Indies in the ongoing limited-overs series.
Siddle, Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson and Steven Smith all departed in the advance party and will prepare for the first warm-up match in Chennai, which starts on Tuesday next week. There are two tour games at the Guru Nanak College Ground in Chennai before the first Test, which begins at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on February 22.
The make-up of Australia's first-choice Test side remains unclear following the retirement of Michael Hussey after the most recent Test series against Sri Lanka. Australia have the option of including Glenn Maxwell as a spinning allrounder alongside three fast men and Nathan Lyon, but they also have the choice of an extra specialist batsman, Khawaja, or a seaming allrounder, Moises Henriques, or a second specialist spinner, Xavier Doherty.
Whatever side is picked, there will be mountains of work for Siddle and his fast-bowling colleagues, Pattinson, Bird, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc during the four-Test series. Despite the fact that nearly three quarters of the wickets that bowlers claimed in the recent India-England series fell to spinners - only 28 of 110 wickets went to fast bowlers - Siddle believes Australia will rely on the quality of their pace attack.
"The best way of attacking India is with whatever your best line-up is," Siddle told reporters at Melbourne airport on Thursday. "The way we've won Test matches for years now has been with our pace and I think that is going to play a big role. But Nathan [Lyon] is going to play a big role at the other end, and his game is going to flourish even more with the pressure we build at our end.
"Combined, we'll do well and definitely be able to take 20 wickets. We're strong, we've got a good set of quicks going over and we've got good back-up for Nathan over there with spin."
Siddle is one of only four members of Australia's 17-man squad who has played Test cricket in India, along with Johnson, Shane Watson and Michael Clarke. Siddle made his Test debut in Mohali in 2008 - it was there that he first established his reputation as a tireless workhorse - and he said the key to bowling in India was patience.
"Trying to bowl as straight and be as patient as we can be [is important]," Siddle said. "We were lucky enough that after the Sydney Test Glenn McGrath spent a bit of time in the rooms with us and we got a good chat with him, sat back and listened to how he went about his business over there.
"It's always been the case, even for a spinner - still patience. Indian wickets are hard work, the games go a little bit slower because the wickets are hard to score on. It is about patience, bowling to your fields and setting the right fields with your captain. Our side is disciplined enough now to go about it in that way. That won't change this series."
The second group of Australians - Maxwell, David Warner, Matthew Wade and the young spinner Ashton Agar - flies to India on Saturday and will be followed by the remainder of the group on Monday, the day after the final ODI against West Indies.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here