Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 4th day December 8, 2013

Siddle thrives on hard day's fight

As Australia grafted for wickets, Peter Siddle restated his immense value to the team
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Twenty-four hours after Mitchell Johnson wrought havoc of biblical proportions at Adelaide Oval, 33,754 spectators and 11 Australia cricketers were reminded why such bursts are to be cherished in their rarity. Most Test cricket is far more attritional in nature, gains hard-won through hours of planning, application, agitation and the odd helping of fortune.

Johnson's incisions had cut the game open, but England would not allow their final 10 wickets to be extracted anywhere near as swiftly on what was now a dying pitch. Despite a brief reprise of Johnson's sudden impact when Alastair Cook hooked his third ball to fine leg, and the most unexpected gift of Ian Bell's wicket from a Steven Smith full toss, the major themes of the day were hard graft and ill temper.

The scant assistance offered by the surface was epitomised by the frustrated glare of Ryan Harris, who so far has only one wicket in the match to show for more than 30 overs of typical vigour. Nathan Lyon has found spin but less of the bounce or rhythm that so aided him in Brisbane. Even Johnson was taken down a notch or two from his earlier heroics, the slightest drop in pace from day three to day four granting England's batsmen a valuable fraction of extra time to play him - Matt Prior even hooking in front of square in the day's final over.

On both sides, the frustrations of the situation contributed to several ill-tempered conversations. Australia, so close to victory, did not take kindly at all to being held up. England, committed to obstructing their opponents' progress in whatever ways they could, returned serve. Joe Root, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Johnson all were involved at various times, including at the end of play. So menacing in his silence the day before, Johnson seemed fractionally less dangerous for having to resort to verbals.

It was decidedly handy in this atmosphere of war minus the shooting for the captain, Michael Clarke, to call on Peter Siddle for his most significant spells of the series. Across seven consecutive Ashes Tests of wildly fluctuating results, moods and conditions, Siddle has been a constant presence, his performances seldom gaining attention but always maintaining a standard Clarke can rely on. Most of all, Siddle has been the man most likely to dispose of Kevin Pietersen, and by doing so twice in Adelaide he has more than earned his match fee.

The battles between Siddle and Pietersen served as a microcosm of the way the two days developed. In the first innings Siddle was brought on by Clarke for the specific task of constricting and defeating Pietersen, something he did not have to wait long for. Pietersen's disregard for field settings has at times brought moments of high class, as his wrists pierce the tiniest gaps between catching men. But this time, as in Brisbane, his pick-up from around off stump found one of the two midwickets Clarke had posted. Like the rest of England's first innings, it was a wicket sold too cheaply.

On day four, however, Pietersen did fight his urge to whip through the leg side. Siddle tried alternating balls wide of the stumps with the odd one angled in, and also varied his approach to the crease to create an angle encouraging the stroke. But Pietersen's bat continued to come through straight, defensive dead bats leaving the bowler to ponder another option. Pietersen strode to 53, helping himself to three sixes, but was then undone by Siddle's subtle movement either way, dragging on a ball moving back at him with his bat hung slightly wider in expectation of a mild curve towards the slips.

Siddle has now defeated Pietersen five times in the past seven Tests, and on nine occasions overall, a victory for the bowling tradesman over the batting aristocrat. "I love the challenge of bowling against a player of his experience and talent," Siddle said. "He's been a star player of Test cricket and I enjoy it. I try to keep patient, bowl in the right areas and been lucky enough, a few chop-ons always help. It was nice to get him today. Pup's always told us be ready for certain players. He's got ideas of who we want to bowl to, so at different stages we have. You know you do bowl better at some players and I think it does work."

The wicket of Michael Carberry had been collected earlier, courtesy of a short ball and a fine catch by Lyon in the deep. Siddle's wicket-taking trailed off towards the end of the previous Ashes series but his value to the team is well understood by everyone in it. "I was disappointed with how I finished off in England but that's done and dusted, don't have to worry about that now," he said. "We're going well as a team, I'm happy with how I'm bowling.

"As a unit we're bowling strong, and that's what we're all about. Mitch has had all the success up to now, but I think it's been the work from Ryano, myself, Nath, Watto, everyone involved that has built that pressure up, and we've got the wickets at his end. That makes it a lot easier for him if we can build the pressure and he can come on in short bursts at them."

The value of the collective is something Siddle has stressed many times before, notably during the 2011-12 summer when many of his best stints at the bowling crease against India went unrewarded, before a starburst of wickets in Adelaide gave him handsome final figures. Walking off the same oval on a day when the Australians had to scrap more thoroughly with England's batsmen than at any other time of the series so far, they had reason to value Siddle, a man for the hard occasion.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on December 9, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    @Shaggy076, well said, mate! I'm so sick of people ramming O'Keefe down our throats like he's the saviour to our spin department when your explanation of him sums him up absolutely perfectly! Funny, looking through a lot of previous posts, we tend to agree a lot. You must be very knowledegable! :)

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    BarrytheH; Not many Shane Warnes come along and Lyon has been as good as any off-spinner that has ever played in Australia. Unfortunately you cant let go the Shane Warne impact, and realise that Lyon is doing a very serviceable job and fulfils an important role in the team. As for the Adelaide pitch how many wickets did Swann and Panesar get on the same wicket? I have never said he is superstar, but I can see the value he brings to our team.

  • BarrytheH on December 9, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Shaggy076, I admire you trying to pump-up the performances of Lyon but he is a very ordinary bowler. The Adelaide wicket should have suited him but his line and length are not up to Test standard. He is probably Australia's best spinner at the moment, but that's simply because we are in a lean period post Warne. However, to Lyon's credit, he is good in the field and has taken some terrific catches. I just wished he was a more penetrative bowler.

  • AidanFX on December 9, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    As good as I have seen Australia field for some time. It was arguably the difference in the match. In close and outfielding was high caliber - and difficult catches in both parts of the ground were taken. That is one of the major areas that need to be of a high caliber if you are to push for number 1 Test nation.

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    Gurudumu ; Do you realise Ahmed has just been dropped by Victoria after being towelled up numerous times this year. No one said Adelaide oval was going to be wickets galore for spin, just nothing in it for the paceman. It was a batsmans paradise. Lyons 6 wickets this series at average 35 is better than any other spinner to play in Australia (except S Warne). It cleans up Murali, Vettori, Ajmal, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Swann and many others. By the way all his 6 wickets have been of batsman, no tailenders, he is doing a very serviceable job. O Keefe is just another Doherty, except Doherty will get the occasional one to turn.

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    Gurudumu ; Do you realise Ahmed has just been dropped by Victoria after being towelled up numerous times this year. No one said Adelaide oval was going to be wickets galore for spin, just nothing in it for the paceman. It was a batsmans paradise. Lyons 6 wickets this series at average 35 is better than any other spinner to play in Australia (except S Warne). It cleans up Murali, Vettori, Ajmal, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Swann and many others. By the way all his 6 wickets have been of batsman, no tailenders, he is doing a very serviceable job. O Keefe is just another Doherty, except Doherty will get the occasional one to turn.

  • BarrytheH on December 9, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    The biggest advantage Australia has its fielding. It was outstanding in this Test, which is testimony to the skill and hard work of coaches such as Steve Rixon. If England had have taken its catches, and Australia dropped a few, then the result would probably have been reversed. Mind you, the English bowling has been pedestrian; Anderson and Swan - regarded as world-beaters - have been really disappointing.

  • Gurudumu on December 9, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    Pattinson and Siddle ahead of Harris? This is the selection mentality that will have Australia no better than 3rd in Tests? I have said consistently, that Lyon is not the best spinner in Oz - he's behind O'Keefe and Ahmed. The selection politics dictate that Lyon stays in the team! What happened to all the talk that Adelaide was the ground where Lyon would get wickets galore? Was he even able to tie up and end? Give me a break - the selection is questionable.

  • dunger.bob on December 9, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Siddle's got way more skill than most people give him credit for. He doesn't just run in and bowl. He's always working on something and as DB said, if the ONLY wicket he took was Pietersens it would still probably be worth having there. Lucky for us it's not just Pietersen he troubles though. He bowls well to everyone. .. Good on ya Pete.

  • Biggus on December 9, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    @thectexperience:- You have to be joking. Harris has a bowling average under 22 and you don't think he would be part of our best bowling line up?

  • ScottStevo on December 9, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    @Shaggy076, well said, mate! I'm so sick of people ramming O'Keefe down our throats like he's the saviour to our spin department when your explanation of him sums him up absolutely perfectly! Funny, looking through a lot of previous posts, we tend to agree a lot. You must be very knowledegable! :)

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    BarrytheH; Not many Shane Warnes come along and Lyon has been as good as any off-spinner that has ever played in Australia. Unfortunately you cant let go the Shane Warne impact, and realise that Lyon is doing a very serviceable job and fulfils an important role in the team. As for the Adelaide pitch how many wickets did Swann and Panesar get on the same wicket? I have never said he is superstar, but I can see the value he brings to our team.

  • BarrytheH on December 9, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Shaggy076, I admire you trying to pump-up the performances of Lyon but he is a very ordinary bowler. The Adelaide wicket should have suited him but his line and length are not up to Test standard. He is probably Australia's best spinner at the moment, but that's simply because we are in a lean period post Warne. However, to Lyon's credit, he is good in the field and has taken some terrific catches. I just wished he was a more penetrative bowler.

  • AidanFX on December 9, 2013, 4:49 GMT

    As good as I have seen Australia field for some time. It was arguably the difference in the match. In close and outfielding was high caliber - and difficult catches in both parts of the ground were taken. That is one of the major areas that need to be of a high caliber if you are to push for number 1 Test nation.

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    Gurudumu ; Do you realise Ahmed has just been dropped by Victoria after being towelled up numerous times this year. No one said Adelaide oval was going to be wickets galore for spin, just nothing in it for the paceman. It was a batsmans paradise. Lyons 6 wickets this series at average 35 is better than any other spinner to play in Australia (except S Warne). It cleans up Murali, Vettori, Ajmal, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Swann and many others. By the way all his 6 wickets have been of batsman, no tailenders, he is doing a very serviceable job. O Keefe is just another Doherty, except Doherty will get the occasional one to turn.

  • Shaggy076 on December 9, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    Gurudumu ; Do you realise Ahmed has just been dropped by Victoria after being towelled up numerous times this year. No one said Adelaide oval was going to be wickets galore for spin, just nothing in it for the paceman. It was a batsmans paradise. Lyons 6 wickets this series at average 35 is better than any other spinner to play in Australia (except S Warne). It cleans up Murali, Vettori, Ajmal, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Swann and many others. By the way all his 6 wickets have been of batsman, no tailenders, he is doing a very serviceable job. O Keefe is just another Doherty, except Doherty will get the occasional one to turn.

  • BarrytheH on December 9, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    The biggest advantage Australia has its fielding. It was outstanding in this Test, which is testimony to the skill and hard work of coaches such as Steve Rixon. If England had have taken its catches, and Australia dropped a few, then the result would probably have been reversed. Mind you, the English bowling has been pedestrian; Anderson and Swan - regarded as world-beaters - have been really disappointing.

  • Gurudumu on December 9, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    Pattinson and Siddle ahead of Harris? This is the selection mentality that will have Australia no better than 3rd in Tests? I have said consistently, that Lyon is not the best spinner in Oz - he's behind O'Keefe and Ahmed. The selection politics dictate that Lyon stays in the team! What happened to all the talk that Adelaide was the ground where Lyon would get wickets galore? Was he even able to tie up and end? Give me a break - the selection is questionable.

  • dunger.bob on December 9, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Siddle's got way more skill than most people give him credit for. He doesn't just run in and bowl. He's always working on something and as DB said, if the ONLY wicket he took was Pietersens it would still probably be worth having there. Lucky for us it's not just Pietersen he troubles though. He bowls well to everyone. .. Good on ya Pete.

  • Biggus on December 9, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    @thectexperience:- You have to be joking. Harris has a bowling average under 22 and you don't think he would be part of our best bowling line up?

  • __PK on December 9, 2013, 2:22 GMT

    Aus quicks are looking really nicely balanced, now. Johnson provides the speed and X-factor, Harris the McGrath-like lurker in the corridor of uncertainty and Siddle the workhorse for the dead tracks. Throw in Watson's uncanny wicket-taking ability and this attack is looking pretty good. And there's admirable backup around the country, too.

  • Showbags88 on December 9, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    Siddle seems to have really matured the last few years. He obviously now really understands his role in the team is to be the "top of off stump all day" bowler that builds pressure for the strike bowlers at the other end. Not only that he is a fellow Vegan so obviously he is a great man.

  • on December 9, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    The nice thing about this victory is the way the team has gelled. There seems to be much better team spirit...let's hope the rotation policy and it's attendant divisions is over ..well done team... everybody played their part!!!

  • brisCricFan on December 9, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4; even the most one-eyed fanatic could never suggest that... You couldn't mention Siddle with the likes of McGrath and he isn't in the class of Steyn or Philander at the moment... He is like Chris Matthews of old, or Paul Reiffel... Michael Kasporwiscz... A good bowler, great for the unit and on their day they can reach those heights...

    There has been many a day I thought we could lose Siddle for someone with a bit more firepower but then you lose the reliable nagging guy that makes the batsman worry about every ball that is coming down.

    Take a bow Peter Siddle, your efforts are far from unnoticed.

  • Greatest_Game on December 8, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    @ electric_loco_WAP4 believes that "Siddle with Johnson are 2 of the top 3 best quicks in the world. The next Mcgrath."

    electric_Loco, You are conveniently looking at the wrong part of the southern hemisphere. By every standard, measure, and metric, the top 2 quicks in the world are not presently dismantling Eng, but rather crushing the vastly overrated India, - a fact which I know you are all too aware of. The tour averages of India's so-called superstar batsmen tell the tale: Dhawan - 6, Kholi - 15.5, Rohit -18.5, Raina - 25, Yuvraj - 0. SA's quicks, led by Steyn, with phenomenal tour figs of ave 7, econ 2.8, SR 15, are, with no disrespect to the Aussies, where you will find the next McGrath.

    And, for the record, Harris has better career figs than Sidle or Johnson:

    Siddle - ave 29.06, econ 2.96, SR 58.8. Johnson ave 30.11, econ 3.34, SR 54.0. Harris ave 21.81, econ 2.85, SR 45.9

  • Shaggy076 on December 8, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    thectexperience; I agree Siddle gives you great balance with your bowling line-up and is a must for selection. However, cant see Pattinson being in front of Harris who averages in the lower 20's in test cricket. After all these injuries we seem to have found our perfect bowling line-up, and they have played the last two tests.

  • Chris_P on December 8, 2013, 20:40 GMT

    An absolute Trojan with a huge heart. Gerat stuff, Sid.

  • on December 8, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    @thectexperience why would you leave out Harris even though he is No. 6 in the ICC test bowlers rankings?

  • thectexperience on December 8, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    Another great piece from DB. Siddle is the best third quick you could ask for. Australia's best bowling side, in my opinion, would be: Johnson, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon, Watson.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 8, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    Siddle with Johnson are 2 of the top 3 best quicks in the world. The next Mcgrath.

  • markinperth on December 8, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Great article DB.

    He is a bit like a human bowling machine; consistent with a mind of his own to make necessary adjustments. A guy who bowls line and length as faithfully as Siddle may only fluctuate between good days and great days. Remember his birthday bowling a few years back (great day)? I reckon there is a great days bowling around the corner!

  • Beertjie on December 8, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    It's time Siddle's contribution is acknowledged. As fans we usually congregate around strike bowlers: Johnson, Harris, Pattinson, Cummins (once), Bird (twice), etc. and tend to underrate "the man for the hard occasion". Good article, Daniel.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 8, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Nice article about the unsung hero.

    Aussies have done exceptionally well on the Adelaide Highway.

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  • BradmanBestEver on December 8, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    Nice article about the unsung hero.

    Aussies have done exceptionally well on the Adelaide Highway.

  • Beertjie on December 8, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    It's time Siddle's contribution is acknowledged. As fans we usually congregate around strike bowlers: Johnson, Harris, Pattinson, Cummins (once), Bird (twice), etc. and tend to underrate "the man for the hard occasion". Good article, Daniel.

  • markinperth on December 8, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    Great article DB.

    He is a bit like a human bowling machine; consistent with a mind of his own to make necessary adjustments. A guy who bowls line and length as faithfully as Siddle may only fluctuate between good days and great days. Remember his birthday bowling a few years back (great day)? I reckon there is a great days bowling around the corner!

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 8, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    Siddle with Johnson are 2 of the top 3 best quicks in the world. The next Mcgrath.

  • thectexperience on December 8, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    Another great piece from DB. Siddle is the best third quick you could ask for. Australia's best bowling side, in my opinion, would be: Johnson, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon, Watson.

  • on December 8, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    @thectexperience why would you leave out Harris even though he is No. 6 in the ICC test bowlers rankings?

  • Chris_P on December 8, 2013, 20:40 GMT

    An absolute Trojan with a huge heart. Gerat stuff, Sid.

  • Shaggy076 on December 8, 2013, 22:42 GMT

    thectexperience; I agree Siddle gives you great balance with your bowling line-up and is a must for selection. However, cant see Pattinson being in front of Harris who averages in the lower 20's in test cricket. After all these injuries we seem to have found our perfect bowling line-up, and they have played the last two tests.

  • Greatest_Game on December 8, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    @ electric_loco_WAP4 believes that "Siddle with Johnson are 2 of the top 3 best quicks in the world. The next Mcgrath."

    electric_Loco, You are conveniently looking at the wrong part of the southern hemisphere. By every standard, measure, and metric, the top 2 quicks in the world are not presently dismantling Eng, but rather crushing the vastly overrated India, - a fact which I know you are all too aware of. The tour averages of India's so-called superstar batsmen tell the tale: Dhawan - 6, Kholi - 15.5, Rohit -18.5, Raina - 25, Yuvraj - 0. SA's quicks, led by Steyn, with phenomenal tour figs of ave 7, econ 2.8, SR 15, are, with no disrespect to the Aussies, where you will find the next McGrath.

    And, for the record, Harris has better career figs than Sidle or Johnson:

    Siddle - ave 29.06, econ 2.96, SR 58.8. Johnson ave 30.11, econ 3.34, SR 54.0. Harris ave 21.81, econ 2.85, SR 45.9

  • brisCricFan on December 9, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4; even the most one-eyed fanatic could never suggest that... You couldn't mention Siddle with the likes of McGrath and he isn't in the class of Steyn or Philander at the moment... He is like Chris Matthews of old, or Paul Reiffel... Michael Kasporwiscz... A good bowler, great for the unit and on their day they can reach those heights...

    There has been many a day I thought we could lose Siddle for someone with a bit more firepower but then you lose the reliable nagging guy that makes the batsman worry about every ball that is coming down.

    Take a bow Peter Siddle, your efforts are far from unnoticed.