Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo September 15, 2011

Siddle to shed aggro, bowl fuller


Australia's captain Michael Clarke believes Peter Siddle can overturn his habit of bowling short, built up during his four years in international cricket, and revert to the fuller length he needs to be a dangerous fast bowler against Sri Lanka in the third Test in Colombo.

Admired as a hard-working, hostile paceman, Siddle has not always been an example of subtlety, and was often used by former captain Ricky Ponting as an enforcer in the vein of Merv Hughes. In Sri Lanka such methods could lead to long, draining stints in the field against the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, in his 100th Test, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan.

To that end, Australia's pacemen have employed a disciplined line and a fuller length against the hosts, looking for edges, lbws and to have them bowled, with conspicuous success. However the absence of Ryan Harris means it will be Siddle who now has to look for swing and seam, rather than the bounce and intimidation with which he has generally preferred to take wickets.

"All of our bowlers have been working on their length since they've been here," Clarke said. "That's something that Craig McDermott [Australia's bowling coach] has certainly made very clear - with the new ball we needed to be bowling fuller, we needed to be giving ourselves a chance, and Sidds [Siddle] has done that.

"I've watched him bowl at every net session he's had and he's definitely improved his length. I think there were a few reasons why he didn't perform how he would have liked in the practice game [Siddle went wicketless]. He's had two weeks since then to train with Stuart Karppinen [the fitness coach], who has made it very clear he wanted him fitter and stronger, and to bowl a lot more in the nets to work on his length.

"Rhino [Harris] has got the ball to come back in and he's bowled blokes through the gate, got lbws. Sidds can swing the new ball away, but one of his greatest strengths and what he does naturally is bring the ball back in off the pitch to the right-handers or take it away from the left-handers."

Clarke, however, did not rule out a shorter-pitched attack from Siddle and Mitchell Johnson, given the right circumstances.

"The other thing Sidds has is, he can bowl 150kph and can crank it up. If there's not much in the wicket he's got a very good bouncer so he can push the batters back," Clarke said. "It brings in other ways to take wickets as well. Not only can Mitch bowl at good pace, but Sidds can as well, and if there's not much in the wicket there might be a few more bouncers than we've seen [so far]."

Johnson, too, has something to prove, having struggled for wickets and rhythm in the series. Unable to produce the inswing of his pomp, Johnson has concentrated on angling the ball across the right-handers. But he is yet to bowl the sort of hair-raising spell that has kept him in the Australia team, as an occasional matchwinner, since his debut against Sri Lanka in 2007.

"I think Mitch's role has been similar throughout the on- dayers and the Tests," Clarke said. "There hasn't been much swing around, but he's got extra pace and being left-handed brings in variation [to the attack]. If there's swing around he can swing the ball in, but he's also got a beautiful angle to take it across the right-handers whether it is reversing or not.

"It also gives us the option for somebody to reverse the ball into the left-handers. Mitch has just got to keep doing what he is doing. I thought he bowled really well in the last Test without much luck - a few balls bounced short of me at second slip, there were a few play and misses. I think everybody needs to continue to do what they're doing. We spoke about discipline and execution, and it is going to take every single one of us doing that at the highest level to have success in this Test match."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on September 16, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    Agreed @Jono Makim.Other than the tour game,his recent figures are pretty decent.I dont think he was fully fit against England,after his back injury.He could well have an impact.

  • Bryn on September 16, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    PeterCook ---- yeah they did hey. its not like he was the ashes best bowler and took a hattrick or anything, hes such a poor bowler hey. you represent all the idiots that comment on here. its unbelievable really but it brings me comfort to know you all know less than nothing about cricket and are all retards

  • P Subramani on September 16, 2011, 12:30 GMT

    Siddle is a good, honest old fashioned trier who can be depended upon more for his hands on deck attitude, not for bowling acumen. You can never catch him for want of effort. Sadly however, he is not a wicket taking bowler at the moment despite his 150 kph bowling. I feel it is something between the ears. And that is a shortcoming he is not likely to get over in a hurry. He needs to see videos of the batsmen he is likely to bowl to and then instill his bowling strategy. Left to himself he will give us all the benefit of his matchless smile. I wish he proves me wrong though.

  • rob on September 16, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    He was a joke in the ashes, England's batsman destroyed him.

  • Dummy4 on September 16, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    I'll throw my hat into the ring as a Siddle fan too. He works very hard at his bowling and his batting too. There seems to be some seam movement in this pitch(not sure if it will last!) and it may just suit him.

  • Simon on September 16, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    Don't write of Siddle. He is a trier, a good honest cricketer. He does get carried away with the short ball, as he did last summer, but when he pitches it up there he is far more dangerous. Personally, I think its amazing how these coaches think. "Right son" they say, "pitch it up on the stumps and you have a better chance of getting a wicket than if you keep bowling it short." Blimey, my primary school teacher taught me that.

  • Tyson on September 16, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    @no_excuses Pattinson bowls 140-145kph, Harris Johnson and Siddle can all hit 150

  • Tim on September 16, 2011, 2:16 GMT

    @spence1324, you clearly didn't see him bowl at the MCG after Harris went down injured. He was the only player on the entire field who was trying. Took 2 amazing catches off Johnson as well as 6 wickets. He finds ways to get involved even when he isn't taking wickets, just look at his match winning 30 batting with Mike Hussey at Sydney vs Pakistan. He has a great attitude, bowls fast (not fast medium), attacks the stumps and if he can get his length right will be a danger on any pitch.

  • Paul on September 16, 2011, 1:57 GMT

    Peter Siddle has a number of admirable traits but he is honest trier at best. Why not play James Pattinson - he is the fastest bowler in the touring party, is tall and gets good bounce and has massive upside. The selectors need to start playing some of the young quicks like Pattinson, Hazelwood, Starc rather than cog above average types like Siddle, Bollinger and Johnson. The young blokes won't go any worse than the experienced hands and may go a whole lot better.

  • Trevor on September 16, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Siddle's main liability as a bowler was bowling too short. We saw what he is capable of when he pitches the ball up when he took those wickets in the first innings at the Gabba. Now that the coaches are imploring him to bowl fuller we should at least give him a chance to see if he can recapture that Gabba form by bowling that same length. Johnson, on the other hand, has decided to give away the only weapon that made him devastating ie inswingers. Those 'one in 6 month' spells he used to produce came when he did get the ball to swing back into the right hander. Now that he is not even attempting to bowl inswingers we can safely assume that those rare test match spells will become even rarer. Time to move him out of the test squad to join Lee as a specialist short form bowler.

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