Australia news February 25, 2016

Siddle's future uncertain after stress fractures


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WATCH - Siddle takes crucial NZ wickets

Fast bowler Peter Siddle faces an uncertain future after being diagnosed with stress fractures in his back that will require "a significant amount of time away from the game". Siddle played the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington and was an important figure in the first innings, collecting 3 for 37, but he suffered back spasms in the second innings and was ruled out of the second Test in Christchurch.

At the Basin Reserve, Siddle became the eighth man in Australia's Test history to reach the double of 1000 runs and 200 wickets, testament to his consistency over his 61-Test career. However, at the age of 31 and with no shortage of fast-bowling depth in Australian cricket, regaining the fitness and form required to press for further international selection will be an enormous challenge for Siddle.

"Peter returned to Melbourne on Monday and had scans following the bout of back pain he suffered during the first Test in Wellington," David Beakley, the Cricket Australia physio, said. "Unfortunately those scans have indicated a stress fracture in his lower back. He will now require a significant amount of time away from the game with a lengthy rehabilitation process.

"Whilst he is laid off with his current back injury, we will take the opportunity for Peter to have exploratory surgery on his left ankle to investigate and treat the cause of his ongoing ankle pain. Once that surgery is complete we will have a better idea of his prognosis and likely rehabilitation time frame."

In Siddle's absence, James Pattinson returned to the Test team in Christchurch and collected six wickets in Australia's victory, while Jackson Bird finished with seven victims for the match. Josh Hazlewood was the leading wicket taker among Australia's fast bowlers this summer with 33 at 31.13, and when Mitchell Starc returns from injury, Australia will have plenty of options.

Starc began the Test summer in fine form, with 13 wickets at 23.23 in what was effectively two and a half Tests against New Zealand, before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery and ruled him out of the rest of the season. Starc will miss Australia's World Twenty20 campaign in India next month but Australia's coach Darren Lehmann is hopeful of having him available for June's one-day tri-series in the Caribbean.

"We're hoping he'll be available in the West Indies, part of the one-day tour there, and then full tilt at Sri Lanka [in July-August]. That would be the goal for us and the medical team. He's going pretty well at the moment."

The absence of Starc for more than half the summer, as well as the retirement of Mitchell Johnson during the home series against New Zealand, tested Australia's bowling depth and Lehmann was especially pleased that others were able to stand up well enough to help the team regain the No.1 Test ranking. Allrounder Mitchell Marsh's bowling developed strongly over the summer, and Nathan Lyon was the leading wicket taker with 33 victims at 26.84 in the eight Tests.

"It's certainly a reflection on the depth of bowling," Lehmann said of the No.1 ranking, regained after the win over New Zealand at Hagley Oval. "We've picked a side with the conditions in mind here, and we've got a fair few guys injured at the moment. That's a good sign for us going forward, when we start to get our full quality quicks to pick from. That will put pressure on them as well, coming back. They've got to perform to play. That's a good thing for us going forward.

"I think just the consistency from 1 to 11 has been really good for us. Lyon has been exceptional again throughout the tour. His Test match bowling is second to none. Really pleased for all the blokes who have worked hard. We've lost a big chunk of our side in one hit. But they changed around pretty quickly, we took a punt on a couple of players and they did well."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Bruce Lamberton on February 28, 2016, 15:28 GMT

    I believe the dramatic increase in stress-related injuries to Australian fast bowlers over the last few years has been due to not only their increased workload following the introduction of T20 cricket - local and international - but also to the use of drop-in wickets and grounds that are used for Australian Rules football which have lead to harder centre squares.

  • Robert on February 28, 2016, 15:18 GMT

    @Mervo. Nothing against Copeland and don't necessarily agree but our selectors like them quick.

  • Merv on February 28, 2016, 2:03 GMT

    Trent Copeland from NSW has a first class average of 25/wicket and has only been picked in the 3 tests. What has he done wrong? Will bowl all day and has great containment as well.

  • subhasish on February 27, 2016, 9:10 GMT

    Brahams@ agree with you in 70s 80s 90s also bowlers not got any stress facture but I don't understand why always Australian fast bowlers get these kind of injuries Cummins out for 1 year due to stress facture I don't think any subcontinent bowlers got any stress factures' I think medical staff make these small injuries I think todays fast bowlers following to much their medical staff advice they don't trust their own body at all I think as a bowler you should know your body batter then anyone you don't need to follow medical staff advices

  • Mark on February 26, 2016, 12:13 GMT

    Sad news for Siddle, I was looking forward to his second spell at Notts this summer. I hope he can recover well and at least have a substantial amount of first class cricket left.

  • Izmi on February 26, 2016, 12:01 GMT

    Peter Siddle's injury is no big surprise and has been a part and parcel of aussie cricket especially for the past 5 years yet Cricket Australia still seems clueless why it is so prevalent among our fast bowlers than anywhere in the world. I reckon our pacemen are more concerned about building their muscles and physical frame and not their stamina and as a result breakdown very frequently through some injury or the other. They also take a long time to recover from injury. After a few games their cricket season is all over only to come back from injury the following year and repeat the process. Despite the availability of a fearsome battery of fast bowlers Australia never had the opportunity to unleash them at the sametime during the past 5 years. Just imagine Starc, Johnson, Harris, Pattinson/Hazlewood bowling at 150kph from both ends. During the last 6 months or so Australia has lost both Harris and Johnson due to early retirement as well as Starc, Cummins and Siddle due to injury.

  • Thomas on February 26, 2016, 9:27 GMT

    Very disappointing news. One of the nice guys of Australian cricket and has not been treated well by the selectors over the years. Wish him all the best and hope he gets another few Tests before retirement.

  • Richard on February 26, 2016, 8:18 GMT

    Stress fractures appear to be an invention of recent times. Think of all the fast bowlers since 1946 if not before - how many of them suffered stress fractures ? I can't think of any. How many of them spent hours training, doing physical jerks, and the like ? Few if any. They turned up and bowled - and bowled pretty well too. Miller, Lindwall, Toshack, Mackenzie, Davidson, Lillee, Thomson, Bedser, Trueman, Statham, Loader, Bailey, Snow, Willis, Botham, Old, Hadlee, Collinge, Roberts, Marshall, Holding, Croft, Garner, ... the list goes on and on - not a stress fracture in sight.

  • Colin on February 26, 2016, 2:45 GMT

    I have always felt Siddle is underrated. People are so preoccupied with pace that they overlook skill. As an England fan, I am glad that he didn't play until the dead rubber where he bowled really well. Starc bowled great balls and garbage balls in equal measure, Johnson look up and down and very average and Hazlewood looked confused as to what his role in the side was. Australian selectors made some dreadful decisions in the Ashes and not adapting their attack was one of them. The merits of a bloke who can tie an end up and build pressure is often overlooked but hugely valuable.

  • Varun on February 26, 2016, 1:10 GMT

    He is an average bowler but a real workhorse. Aus will miss him.

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