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January 7, 2014
Sanjay Manjrekar : The difference the threat of injury makes
Features : Finest Ashes pace numbers since 1890
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
'Being dropped a blessing in disguise' - Warner
Peter Siddle declared Australia's bowling attack the world's best no fewer than three times as the somewhat hung-over but deliriously happy Ashes victors set their sights on a Test match showdown in South Africa next month. A crowd of more than 4,000 converged on the Sydney Opera House overlooking the harbour to pay tribute to the Australian team, a number that might have been greater in a venue less cramped for space.
As some members of the team battled to regain voices lost over the course of two nights' raucous celebrations and Chris Rogers danced for the crowd after sleeping through the start of the event in the best traditions of Andrew Flintoff, Siddle spoke stridently about how the bowling ensemble was a match for any in the world. Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel will not be able to ignore Siddle's words.
"When we're bowling at our consistent best like we did throughout this series I think it shows [we are the best]," he said. "Everyone playing their role, Mitch bowling fast, Ryano and myself doing our role and Nath with the spin from his end. The consistency we've had against England over a five Test series, no-one's ever really done it as successfully as we have, to be able to do that and win so convincingly shows how strong we are at the moment.
"Just the way we've worked together at different times and break partnerships, I don't think we've let any partnership get too big on us, and we're able to break them and get stuck into the rest - that's what caused all the collapses, so that's what we're looking to do over there and if we continue to do that it could be a very good year for us.
"It's going to be a very tough contest over there, we're looking forward to it. Conditions are going to be similar to back home which is going to make it easier for us to adapt, but we're going to have to lift our game a bit more to get over them."
Asked repeatedly by an English correspondent if the attack was the best around the globe, Siddle could not have made his point clearer: "For the third time, yes. Did you get that? Good, okay, remember."
Siddle's fellow fast man Ryan Harris reiterated his own desire to push through a complete schedule of Tests in South Africa, revealing he had delayed knee clean-out surgery during the Ashes to make sure he could play in all five matches against England. Harris had long doubted his own capacity to stay fit for lengthy enough periods to do justice to his undoubted bowling talent, but to have played nine out of a possible 10 Ashes Tests had proved his durability at the unlikely age of 34.
"[Surgery] has got to be after South Africa now," Harris said. "I went to Melbourne after Perth and had a check with the surgeon. There are bits of bone floating around. We were thinking about doing it then and there and missing the rest of the series but I wanted to play five games. I wanted to be a part of it for the whole thing. Hopefully it can get through South Africa.
"The knee is no different now than it was a month or six weeks ago. You wake up sometimes in the morning and it's tough. You get out of bed and it's sore. But you either decide whether you want to go through the pain or you don't. It's as simple as that. And I want to be in this team as long as I can. I'll put up with it. If we win in South Africa we go to number one in the world, which is our goal. But more importantly we just want to make sure we keep winning."
As for Rogers, the chance to go to South Africa will prolong the most remarkable final chapter of a career that looked destined to remain unfulfilled for most of his journey. "I think if I'd have finished and not played international cricket I'd have been quite disappointed," he said from behind sunglasses. "To get this opportunity and play it well, I can finish cricket at some stage and think I've done everything, and that's great to do.
"I still didn't think people had seen the way I actually bat and I wanted to show that and fortunately I've been able to play a couple of good innings. I've always wondered what it'd be like to play international cricket and thought I was good enough but never got the opportunity, so it is nice now to get that chance.
"People talk about retirement, but what's the point of retiring? This is amazing and I haven't had this opportunity before, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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