The Ashes 2013-14 November 29, 2013

Siddle hopes to get through Adelaide grind


If there was one image that signified Australia's disappointment against South Africa last summer, it was the sight of Peter Siddle on his haunches at the end of the Adelaide Test. Depleted, dejected and, he later admitted, "a little bit delirious", Siddle had delivered 63.5 overs in the match, the most by any Australia fast bowler this century. Australia fell two wickets short of a win, Siddle's body couldn't handle another Test four days later, and South Africa took the series with victory in Perth.

Twelve months later, Siddle is preparing to return to the venue of his most exhausting Test experience, but in happier circumstances. Australia are 1-0 up in an Ashes series and Siddle's workload in the first Test - 26.4 overs - is a vast improvement on the 53 he sent down at the Gabba last year. A four-day win in Brisbane also allowed an extra day of rest ahead of Adelaide, and all the Test fast men have sat out of the ongoing round of Sheffield Shield matches.

There is always the chance of a fast bowler breaking down in Adelaide, as James Pattinson did early in last year's match, but Siddle has his fingers crossed for a slightly easier time. Like last year, there is only a three-day break between the Adelaide and Perth Tests, but Siddle is hopeful he will be able to walk out with the team at the WACA this time around.

"Going over to Adelaide you never expect a light workload," Siddle said in Melbourne on Friday. "It's always going to be hard work. Hopefully this year everyone's fit. We've come off a lighter workload as a bowling unit so hopefully everyone gets through and there's no hiccups at the start of the game [which would mean] a couple of us have to have big outings.

"It's about how you're feeling, and I think we're the biggest judge of that ... We judge it in the end, like I did in Perth last year and said I wasn't up to it. That's the same thing that will happen around now no doubt. The selectors will pick the best team that's 100% fit for that Test match ... I couldn't [back up] last time but we'd had a big workload earlier on. This time, it's obviously been a lot lighter. We've just got to play it by ear."

The one unknown this time is the new Adelaide Oval surface: for the first time in the venue's 128-year Test history, a drop-in pitch will be used. Two Sheffield Shield matches have been played on the drop-ins this summer and the initial signs are not encouraging for fast bowlers. Across the two matches, spin bowlers have collectively taken 28 wickets at 41.39, while fast bowlers have tallied only 23 victims at 57.08. No fast bowler has taken more than three in an innings.

Two matches is a small sample size, of course, and the second of those games - both draws - was getting close to a result when time ran out on the fourth afternoon. Johan Botha, the South Australia captain, said the pitch was "getting towards a result wicket, but you would still probably want a little more out of it on day one and two instead of losing only three or four wickets". Siddle and his colleagues can expect plenty of hard work.

"It doesn't matter who you're playing or what game it is over there, whether it's a one-dayer or a Test match, it's always tight," Siddle said. "It is a tough ground to play at; the wicket can get pretty flat to bat on. But sometimes it can get a bit of turn, so the spinner will play a part. We don't know what's going to happen with these drop-ins, but hopefully it's a good cricket wicket all round, the bowlers get a bit out of it and the batters can have a bit of fun out there.

"We all saw Mitch bowl over in India on flatter wickets than we're probably going to get in Adelaide and the pace and bounce he had on those wickets. We don't know what's going to be prepared for us. We'll get over there, we'll assess the wicket and see what plans we'll go with."

Australia are expected to use the same attack in Adelaide as they did at the Gabba, although there is the chance of bringing in the allrounder James Faulkner for George Bailey as an extra bowling option. While Faulkner has a strong chance of playing some part in this Ashes series, Pattinson appears unlikely to take on England, despite the news that he will make his return from injury this weekend in club cricket in Melbourne.

Pattinson is on the comeback trail from a back stress fracture and will turn out for Dandenong this weekend, though it will be as a batsman only. Cricket Australia's general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, said on Friday that Pattinson had a carefully planned programme for the coming month, after which his fitness would be reassessed, and he was not expected to play any Sheffield Shield cricket until the new year.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on December 1, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    Let's be clear. The reason why Siddle had to be overbowled at Adelaide against South Africa was because:( a) James Pattinson got unftr during the match and (b) Mathew Wade tried to act too smart and stood upto the stumps to the pace bowlers,with the result he dropped a sitter from Faf du Pleissis.He went on to remain unbeaten,and South Africa drew the match.We would have won that match.Brad Haddin is not so brainless.

  • rob on November 30, 2013, 23:34 GMT

    @ balajik1968: "Don't forget that player for player, England is still the better team."

    Not all the way down the line. I can see several key positions where the Aussies at least match, if not exceed, their Pommy counterparts. Carbery v Rogers (even), Prior v Haddin (Haddin) , her's a controversial one: Broad v Johnson (Hmm, Johnson atm), Harris v Anderson (In Oz, Harris). You could also argue that whoever you match Clarke up with (KP I guess) has got his work cut out to outperform our captain.

    They're the obvious ones and I think there's enough evidence to say that these teams are way more evenly matched than many people realise.

  • Balaji on November 30, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    England still has 3 experienced batsmen in Cook, Bell and Pietersen. Carberry is an experienced player with several years of first class cricket. These 3 need to step up and hold fort. It is the 3rd bowler who seems to be giving England problems, and that seems to be rubbing off on Swann. Anderson also seems to be struggling.

    As for the Aussies, Harris seems to be enjoying a fairly long period of fitness, at the ripe age of 34. The Aussies needs to think carefully. By obsessing over what happened last year, the Aussies could just lose the edge, and England could come roaring back. Don't forget that player for player, England is still the better team. The Aussie win was built on 2 things 1. some terrific lower order batting in the 1st innings and England's first innings collapse.

  • Izmi on November 30, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    I reckon Australia should play all three pacemen Harris, Siddle and Johnson in addition to Faulkner for the third test rather than rest Harris. Since it has been proved that this so called rotation policy has never worked as Pattinson, Starc and Bird have all ended up with injuries. It has only backfired and is detriment to the team as evidenced in the third test against South Africa last year and will help the poms to get on top and gain confidence.Faulkners inclusion at the expense of Bailey will be the the right decision. Australia should never ease the pressure on England at this moment. In addition to his bowling Faulkner would also contribute with the bat and is also a fine fielder. As such I reckon he should be selected for the Adelaide test instead of George Bailey. An aussie victory here would be the final nail in the coffin for England before the third test on the bouncy wicket in Perth proved to be Johnson's hunting ground as evidenced in the last ashes series downunder.

  • Cameron on November 30, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    Quite a few assumptions here, the main one being if the pitch suits England have an automatic right to pile on the runs. Let's remember they haven't passed 400 in some 17-18 innings and were blown away for less than 150 and 200 on a very good batting wicket (as evidenced by Australia's 700 odd runs with wickets in hand). So, why would anyone assume England are going to make runs and wear down the Aussie bowlers when there is no evidence to suggest that? Keep your stats, I suggest on form England will lose heavily. After all they just got rolled again in Alice Springs, giving up a lead to a team evenly matched with them.

  • Cam on November 30, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    @RichardDonnelly, well the last England defeat I recall was by 381 runs, quite recently if I recall correctly. Thing is they have been out of form for so long with the bat it raises the question was their good form temporary?

  • Guy on November 30, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    The strategy from here is fairly simple I think - essentially, protect Harris and Johnson (MJ to a lesser extent, because he is less likely to break down) to ensure they are ready for the WACA. They will both play at Adelaide Oval of course, but if the going gets tough, Siddle, Watson, Lyon and even Smith will have to do their share of bowling to ensure that Harris and Johnson can back up for Perth. The Adelaide Oval deck is made for Siddle's tough, relentless attitude to bowling. But if it comes to it that he can't back up, so be it, go with Faulkner, Cutting, NCN or even Dougie Bollinger for the WACA Test, alongside Harris and Johnson. I agree with @Meety, Siddle is a bit down on pace and isn't a WACA specialist. @anton1234, to answer your question, Cutting was around the mid-130s in the Australia A tour match v England, generally 132-136, but occasionally getting up to 140.

  • Martin on November 30, 2013, 5:38 GMT

    OneEyedAussie - I like your sums. However, I wonder if we are all being presumptuous as to how bad the Adelaide pitch will be to bowl on - it may not turn out that bad.

  • Brady on November 30, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    Watson and Smith should be able to give 7-8 overs per session between them. Throw 7-8 in from Lyon and that means the fast bowlers can rotate in spells of 5-6 overs per session. All very doable. Interesting that people are calling for 5 bowlers at the expense of a specialist batsmen - if Watson can't bowl why not swap him for Faulkner? Clarke looks like he is foaming at the mouth to get at the English, shouldn't need too much motivation to move to 3.

  • jim on November 30, 2013, 0:01 GMT

    All this talk of resting Harris for at least one test - why was Qld allowed to bowl him for 34 overs in the 1st innings against Tas, less than 2 weeks before the first test?

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