South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town March 1, 2014

Siddle asked to regain his pace

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Peter Siddle has been set the task of relocating the yard of speed he has lost over the course of a taxing 18 months, after he was dropped from Australia's side for the decisive third Test against South Africa at Newlands.

An ever-present member of the Australian pace attack since his recall to the team in Sri Lanka in 2011, Siddle had played 31 Tests out of 34 since that time. He missed two matches in the West Indies through injury in 2012 and a third against South Africa in Perth later that year, after he was left fatigued and carrying a hamstring niggle due to his exertions in the second match of that series in Adelaide.

Otherwise Siddle has been a highly reliable component of the bowling attack, repeatedly breaking partnerships and complementing the other fast men in the manner of Merv Hughes. However the treadmill of back-to-back Ashes series plus the tour of South Africa had begun to wear on Siddle's pace.

Australia's coach Darren Lehmann said he had preferred James Pattinson as a third quick in Cape Town for precisely that reason. The decision leaves Siddle with some work ahead to regain his place for Australia's next Test assignment against Pakistan in Dubai.

"He's fully fit, we just wanted the extra pace and James gives us that," Lehmann said. "They're producing wickets which don't have much grass on them and take reverse, so we want the extra pace here and he's a fresh bowler, which is great. He's as keen as mustard.

"Unlucky for Sids because he's done a great job for us over the last few Tests but we've gone for the extra pace. He'd like some more wickets obviously but it's the pace drop. We need him bowling 140kph and at the moment he's averaging 131, 132. He knows that, we've spoken to him and I'm sure he will be back bigger and stronger."

Pattinson's inclusion, for what is remarkably his first appearance in a first-class match since he was invalided out of the Lord's Test match last year, was made more palatable by the return of Shane Watson as a fifth bowling option. He and Nathan Lyon can be expected to bowl tight supporting spells while Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris pursue a more aggressive plan of attack.

This blueprint left no room for Shaun Marsh, who was left out despite a hundred in the first Test at Centurion. Lehmann said the selectors had followed the order of preference they had started the tour with, favouring Alex Doolan as the No. 3 batsman.

"We love to have five bowlers. Shane's pulled up well, he's good to go so it's nice to have the allrounder back, which gives us another option," Lehmann said. "It's always tough. We had to make a choice and that's the difficult job as selectors. We have to get 20 wickets to start with and obviously make a lot of runs.

"Shaun is very unlucky. At the start of the tour we were probably going to shape up as we have today."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY android_user on | March 3, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    Philander at 130k can move the ball. Siddle doesn't do enough with the pill at that speed. That's the difference.

  • POSTED BY Dr.Qwert on | March 2, 2014, 3:34 GMT

    I liked the balance of the bowling lineup. Johnson as a strike bowler, Harris to get the bowl moving and taking wickets when a little less is in the pitch, the holding Lyon and the workhorse Siddle, to essentially nag the batsmen out.

    I'd have a strike bowler in Johnson, best workhorse Siddle, Bird or even Copeland and then the best of the rest, acknowledging the amount of bowling necessary. This obsession with pace is ridiculous, the #1 bowler in the world at series start was Philander at 130clicks.

  • POSTED BY on | March 2, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    I must say one thing I like about Darren Lehmann as coach is that he doesn't shy away from obvious truths. It would have been so easy to leave the concerns behind closed doors and put Siddle's absence down to "resting". Though Lehmann has continued to impress me in that he seems open not only to the media and fans but to the players themselves. They know what they need to achieve because he lets them know. I feel this is something coaches now lack. The guts just to front up and be honest about exclusions.

  • POSTED BY Moppa on | March 2, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    I'm a big Siddle fan, he's been a whole-hearted stalwart of the team. However, I think this decision is justified - he has dropped off in pace and, contrary to some opinions, this makes it harder to be a stock bowler as your margin for error is lower (I don't think the drop off in pace has made him more accurate). @dsig3, Siddle's best bowling for Australia was probably the summer of 2011-12, when he was also probably at his fastest. You are right that his improvement has come from bowling fuller, but I don't think that necessarily means you must bowl slower. There is no reason why one can't bowl fast and full (in fact, that is the McDermott mantra) - so I think there is merit in him freshening up to find that bit more pace and energy. Also agree with those saying its been the heavy workload, not the vegetarian diet. @mukesh, you are right about Pattinson, I think there was a good case for Jackson Bird to replace Siddle as the accurate workhorse.

  • POSTED BY mondotv on | March 2, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    Very confusing selection- pick a guy who has bowled a couple of OK spells in 20/20 and a near match losing spell in a 1 dayer, had no 1st class cricket since some fairly unimpressive performances in th Ashes. I agree Sids has lost a little pace but Pattinson? Really? There's got to be 2 or 3 quicks back in Aus who should have been selected before him. Moreover - if ever there's a wicket tailor made for Sids this might be it- two paced, a bit up and down it looks like by day 3 it will really favour a wicket to wicket bowler. If you're going to replace Sids, Starc was the obvious choice. In form and genuinely quick and dangerous, he also stregthens the batting more than Pattinson. And sure that means 2 left arm over the wicket bowlers but 2 totally different ones. Would have been interesting.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | March 1, 2014, 23:28 GMT

    Man, why is it that everyone that eats meat thinks they are a nutritionist? It really bothers me all the fuss that is made over his diet. While I'm the first to admit he has lacked pentration over the past few tests, he has out performed Ryan Harris, a bowler I hugely admire. I think the bigger reason is the volume of work he has done in the past 18 months, he has played more matches than any other Australian bowler.

    Agree with @dsig3, I think pattinson is a more like for like replacent for Harris. I would have liked to have seen bird come in for siddle, while also short of red ball cricket, he did have a good few matches in the big bash. I really like pattinson, and think he is going to play a significant role for many years, but I would of preferred he play a few shield matches first.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | March 1, 2014, 21:55 GMT

    Im not a vegetarian, but cant see Siddle diet has anything to do with it. He has been a vegetarian for about 3-4 years now so why has it taking so long. Or could it be that this he had played 16 tests since the start of the Indian tour and in need of doing some strengthening work. Glenn Mcgrath always said you were unable to do weights whilst continually bowling, it was just managing your body through it. He doesnt have a game for a while now, recover for a bit then hit the gym. Having said all of that what is this obsession with pace, Siddle has still been a significant part of out attack and is that grunt bowler that keeps charging in that we need. Im really not sure Pattinson is that type of bowler and whether he will compliment the attack. Also his last first class game was on the English tour shorly going to be a bit underdone in this crucial match.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Siddle at 132 is faster than many a indian bowler including ishant-can he play for india :)

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | March 1, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    All four will provide reverse which is needed both here and against Pakistan. Sidds may have to wait for an injury to someone before he gets another game. That said Rhino goes under the knife soon so who knows when he'll return. Starc may also come into the reckoning.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | March 1, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    @TheLone Stranger. Marsh has not been dropped for one double failure. He has got 11 ducks in his last 11 test innings and scored 9 centuries in 12 first class seasons with a very ordinary average. That is why he was dropped, pal. Perhaps he shouldn't have been dropped because he shouldn't have been selected in the first place! @Jared Hansen While I am a huge MoHen fan, the fact is he is a batting all rounder (with better overall performances than Watson for the past 3 years). Pattinson represents our future, these type of pitches suit him perfectly & he is young enough & fit enough to bowl a stack of overs, at pace, & with reverse swing.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | March 3, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    Philander at 130k can move the ball. Siddle doesn't do enough with the pill at that speed. That's the difference.

  • POSTED BY Dr.Qwert on | March 2, 2014, 3:34 GMT

    I liked the balance of the bowling lineup. Johnson as a strike bowler, Harris to get the bowl moving and taking wickets when a little less is in the pitch, the holding Lyon and the workhorse Siddle, to essentially nag the batsmen out.

    I'd have a strike bowler in Johnson, best workhorse Siddle, Bird or even Copeland and then the best of the rest, acknowledging the amount of bowling necessary. This obsession with pace is ridiculous, the #1 bowler in the world at series start was Philander at 130clicks.

  • POSTED BY on | March 2, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    I must say one thing I like about Darren Lehmann as coach is that he doesn't shy away from obvious truths. It would have been so easy to leave the concerns behind closed doors and put Siddle's absence down to "resting". Though Lehmann has continued to impress me in that he seems open not only to the media and fans but to the players themselves. They know what they need to achieve because he lets them know. I feel this is something coaches now lack. The guts just to front up and be honest about exclusions.

  • POSTED BY Moppa on | March 2, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    I'm a big Siddle fan, he's been a whole-hearted stalwart of the team. However, I think this decision is justified - he has dropped off in pace and, contrary to some opinions, this makes it harder to be a stock bowler as your margin for error is lower (I don't think the drop off in pace has made him more accurate). @dsig3, Siddle's best bowling for Australia was probably the summer of 2011-12, when he was also probably at his fastest. You are right that his improvement has come from bowling fuller, but I don't think that necessarily means you must bowl slower. There is no reason why one can't bowl fast and full (in fact, that is the McDermott mantra) - so I think there is merit in him freshening up to find that bit more pace and energy. Also agree with those saying its been the heavy workload, not the vegetarian diet. @mukesh, you are right about Pattinson, I think there was a good case for Jackson Bird to replace Siddle as the accurate workhorse.

  • POSTED BY mondotv on | March 2, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    Very confusing selection- pick a guy who has bowled a couple of OK spells in 20/20 and a near match losing spell in a 1 dayer, had no 1st class cricket since some fairly unimpressive performances in th Ashes. I agree Sids has lost a little pace but Pattinson? Really? There's got to be 2 or 3 quicks back in Aus who should have been selected before him. Moreover - if ever there's a wicket tailor made for Sids this might be it- two paced, a bit up and down it looks like by day 3 it will really favour a wicket to wicket bowler. If you're going to replace Sids, Starc was the obvious choice. In form and genuinely quick and dangerous, he also stregthens the batting more than Pattinson. And sure that means 2 left arm over the wicket bowlers but 2 totally different ones. Would have been interesting.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | March 1, 2014, 23:28 GMT

    Man, why is it that everyone that eats meat thinks they are a nutritionist? It really bothers me all the fuss that is made over his diet. While I'm the first to admit he has lacked pentration over the past few tests, he has out performed Ryan Harris, a bowler I hugely admire. I think the bigger reason is the volume of work he has done in the past 18 months, he has played more matches than any other Australian bowler.

    Agree with @dsig3, I think pattinson is a more like for like replacent for Harris. I would have liked to have seen bird come in for siddle, while also short of red ball cricket, he did have a good few matches in the big bash. I really like pattinson, and think he is going to play a significant role for many years, but I would of preferred he play a few shield matches first.

  • POSTED BY Shaggy076 on | March 1, 2014, 21:55 GMT

    Im not a vegetarian, but cant see Siddle diet has anything to do with it. He has been a vegetarian for about 3-4 years now so why has it taking so long. Or could it be that this he had played 16 tests since the start of the Indian tour and in need of doing some strengthening work. Glenn Mcgrath always said you were unable to do weights whilst continually bowling, it was just managing your body through it. He doesnt have a game for a while now, recover for a bit then hit the gym. Having said all of that what is this obsession with pace, Siddle has still been a significant part of out attack and is that grunt bowler that keeps charging in that we need. Im really not sure Pattinson is that type of bowler and whether he will compliment the attack. Also his last first class game was on the English tour shorly going to be a bit underdone in this crucial match.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Siddle at 132 is faster than many a indian bowler including ishant-can he play for india :)

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | March 1, 2014, 19:20 GMT

    All four will provide reverse which is needed both here and against Pakistan. Sidds may have to wait for an injury to someone before he gets another game. That said Rhino goes under the knife soon so who knows when he'll return. Starc may also come into the reckoning.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | March 1, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    @TheLone Stranger. Marsh has not been dropped for one double failure. He has got 11 ducks in his last 11 test innings and scored 9 centuries in 12 first class seasons with a very ordinary average. That is why he was dropped, pal. Perhaps he shouldn't have been dropped because he shouldn't have been selected in the first place! @Jared Hansen While I am a huge MoHen fan, the fact is he is a batting all rounder (with better overall performances than Watson for the past 3 years). Pattinson represents our future, these type of pitches suit him perfectly & he is young enough & fit enough to bowl a stack of overs, at pace, & with reverse swing.

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | March 1, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    @dsig3 - well said , Aussies already have Ryan Harris and Mitch for pure pace , Siddle nicely complemented them with his ability for long and tight spells .. James Pattinson is definitely a talent but being an attacking bowler can go for runs , Siddle has nagging accuracy and subtle seam movements, he should not be forced to increase his pace

  • POSTED BY DC75 on | March 1, 2014, 14:49 GMT

    Javagal Srinath had a veg diet but had consistently maintained his pace in a bowling attack that lacked support bowlers. Veg diet definitely needs to be complimented with protein take up as it cannot match animal protiens but this may not be the reason for Siddle's drop in pace, probably fatigue and overload is the reason - he has played a lot of tests for Aus in the last three years.

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | March 1, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    When sids was bowling 140kms he didnt have any penetration. It was when he dropped his pace and bowled fuller with a little bit of swing that he became a force. I dont have a problem with his pace. It fits perfectly with the rest of the attack. He hits the seam and is incredibly accurate. How do we control the runs when Johnson and Harris are going for plenty? Patto? He is a good bowler but he should come in for Harris not Sids.

  • POSTED BY PaulSyt on | March 1, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    Well said, Arrow 011. It is pure ignorance to suggest that meat is the best source of protein. Siddle has performed admirably on his vegetarian diet - his pace has dropped due to the fatigue caused by back to back Ashes. Jimmy Anderson looked fatigued form the end of the first Ashes series. This obviously has nothing to do with his non vegetarian diet, so why single out Siddle?

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    could it be because of his change to vegetarian diet. Before that he was averaging low 140's.

  • POSTED BY Arrow011 on | March 1, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    Peter Siddle played more tests continuously for Australia due to his Veg diet, it is time he took more Veg proteins than go for non veg diet. The Non veg bowlers have been like a revolving door, one going, one coming in & they also break up like tooth picks. It is time for the entire bowling line up to take Veg diet. Darren Lehmann also confirms that Siddle is fully fit, it speaks volumes about his Veg diet. Go Siddle go, we are all looking up for you back in the Australian playing 11.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | March 1, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    @Jared Hansen, as what? A bowler who isn't really good enough as a bowler and a batsman who isn't really good enough as a batsman? Or maybe his fielding will save us 200 runs? Otherwise, I don't see any reason to have MoHen anywhere near the test team...

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    I love a pie as much as the next man but i'm not sure Sidds diet has anything to do with it. I reckon it's just a heck of a lot of cricket. What have we played, 22 tests in 16 months off the top of my head? If anything I think his slimming down has probably taken pressure off his body and made him far more durable. Only Johnson looks to be in the same league as far as endurance goes. Unless Patto can prove otherwise than Sidds is still very much one of our best 3 seamers and even if he wasn't we'll still be needing him and I'm sure he'll find his pace again with a decent break.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    I'd have had Henriques in ahead of Pattinson. Ah well..

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | March 1, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Ever since Sid gave up the meat & beer his pace just disappeared. He used to regularly nip it in at 145kph but thats long gone. But he lacks penetration. Pattinson is a risk, but he makes things happen.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | March 1, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    @Mindmeld: Couldn't agree more. He needs steak, i think the vego diet has made him weaker, he looks skinny and he just doesn't have the pace these days. His switch shows his determination to play well for Australia, but he needs steak and pace.

  • POSTED BY Tedtheo on | March 1, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    Ragdoll need's a break and a new diet / fitness plan to increase his strength and stamina. Hopefully he might also lose his Chihuahua like over aggressive attitude.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    March should not have been dropped for Doolan. He is capable of playing at three and did not deserve the chop for a double failure after his efforts in the first test. I hope we do not regret it! CJO.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    He needs to get back to eating meat, he's lost a lot of muscle in his glutes and legs which is robbing him of pace. Animal protein is the most complete source of protein thus it will make him stronger. Hope to see him back to bowling 145ks+

  • POSTED BY Mindmeld on | March 1, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    I spotted the drop straight away as soon as he turned vegie. Maybe he could try protein powders and creatine to bulk himself up a bit. Creatine is not made from animals, Peter!

    As for Pattinson. Well, he's REALLY underdone. It's a risk for sure. But that is the way Australia play cricket. They like to risk losing in order to win. Could backfire, but who knows...

  • POSTED BY lillee4PM on | March 1, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    Pattinson might give more pace than Siddle at present but he'll be more expensive and impatient, he is not ready for this level and should be playing domestic cricket.

  • POSTED BY FRpunk on | March 1, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Good Move by Australia . The Aussies Certainly do Value Pace . It Just shows how Good the Australian Bowling attack really is when they can Leave out a Class act like Siddle . Siddle was a Different bowler in india`s Tour of Australia 2011\12 and i Still Believe him getting Tendulkar out in the Final overs of day 2 in the Melbourne Test made a huge Difference .

    but Aussies better hope that Pattinson and Harris stay injury free as both of them are injury prone .

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  • POSTED BY FRpunk on | March 1, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Good Move by Australia . The Aussies Certainly do Value Pace . It Just shows how Good the Australian Bowling attack really is when they can Leave out a Class act like Siddle . Siddle was a Different bowler in india`s Tour of Australia 2011\12 and i Still Believe him getting Tendulkar out in the Final overs of day 2 in the Melbourne Test made a huge Difference .

    but Aussies better hope that Pattinson and Harris stay injury free as both of them are injury prone .

  • POSTED BY lillee4PM on | March 1, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    Pattinson might give more pace than Siddle at present but he'll be more expensive and impatient, he is not ready for this level and should be playing domestic cricket.

  • POSTED BY Mindmeld on | March 1, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    I spotted the drop straight away as soon as he turned vegie. Maybe he could try protein powders and creatine to bulk himself up a bit. Creatine is not made from animals, Peter!

    As for Pattinson. Well, he's REALLY underdone. It's a risk for sure. But that is the way Australia play cricket. They like to risk losing in order to win. Could backfire, but who knows...

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    He needs to get back to eating meat, he's lost a lot of muscle in his glutes and legs which is robbing him of pace. Animal protein is the most complete source of protein thus it will make him stronger. Hope to see him back to bowling 145ks+

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    March should not have been dropped for Doolan. He is capable of playing at three and did not deserve the chop for a double failure after his efforts in the first test. I hope we do not regret it! CJO.

  • POSTED BY Tedtheo on | March 1, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    Ragdoll need's a break and a new diet / fitness plan to increase his strength and stamina. Hopefully he might also lose his Chihuahua like over aggressive attitude.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | March 1, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    @Mindmeld: Couldn't agree more. He needs steak, i think the vego diet has made him weaker, he looks skinny and he just doesn't have the pace these days. His switch shows his determination to play well for Australia, but he needs steak and pace.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | March 1, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Ever since Sid gave up the meat & beer his pace just disappeared. He used to regularly nip it in at 145kph but thats long gone. But he lacks penetration. Pattinson is a risk, but he makes things happen.

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    I'd have had Henriques in ahead of Pattinson. Ah well..

  • POSTED BY on | March 1, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    I love a pie as much as the next man but i'm not sure Sidds diet has anything to do with it. I reckon it's just a heck of a lot of cricket. What have we played, 22 tests in 16 months off the top of my head? If anything I think his slimming down has probably taken pressure off his body and made him far more durable. Only Johnson looks to be in the same league as far as endurance goes. Unless Patto can prove otherwise than Sidds is still very much one of our best 3 seamers and even if he wasn't we'll still be needing him and I'm sure he'll find his pace again with a decent break.