James Darren Siddons
April 25, 1964, Robinvale, Victoria
Right hand Bat
Jamie Siddons represented Australia only once at international level - he made 32 in a one-day match at Lahore in 1988 - but his involvement with the national team increased substantially since his retirement. Siddons was an assistant coach of the Australian team after being appointed as a senior coach at the Centre of Excellence before the 2005 Ashes. Prior to his promotions, Siddons spent four years as the South Australia assistant under the tutelage of Wayne Phillips and Greg Chappell. The swift rise through the management ranks was set up by a career as one of the greatest domestic players never to win a Test cap.
Siddons' first-class statistics were outstanding and when he retired in 1999-2000 he had amassed 10,643 Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup runs, which was then a record. The mantle has since been passed to his former team-mate Darren Lehmann, but Siddons retains third position on the list behind Jamie Cox. He was desperately unlucky not to win a Test call and the closest he came was on the 1988 tour to Pakistan when he suffered a severe stomach bug - he took more than a year to recover. A fractured cheekbone caused by a Merv Hughes bouncer in 1991-92 also severely dented his confidence. "It ruined my chances of playing for Australia," Siddons said in Merv: The Full Story, "and it was my worst moment in sport."
Beginning his career in Victoria, Siddons made his debut in 1984-85 against West Indies, who were then at the peak of their powers, and he scored 35 before falling to a young Courtney Walsh. He was instrumental in securing the Sheffield Shield title in 1990-91, smashing an unbeaten 124 in the final against New South Wales at the MCG, and the following season relocated to South Australia. Showing he had recovered from the Hughes injury, he was the Sheffield Shield Player of the Year in 1992-93 after plundering 1190 runs at 66.11, including four centuries. The move also allowed Siddons to embrace a leadership role and he captained them to a Shield win in 1995-96. He led South Australia in 73 first-class matches, winning 21 times and drawing 23 games.
An exciting player, Siddons possessed an array of aggressive strokes that allowed him to dominate bowling attacks. His exuberance sometimes brought about his downfall, but he was a well-rounded batsman who was at ease to pace and spin. He scored three double-centuries during his stint with Victoria, including a career-high 245 for Victoria against New South Wales in 1990-91, and the closest he got to a double at South Australia was 197 against New South Wales in Sydney in 1992-93. An outstanding fielder at slip and on the offside, Siddons still has the record for the most catches in domestic first-class history with 189, the same number as John Inverarity. He was superb in the covers, but injury meant he spent most of his latter years in the cordon, and Lehmann reckoned he saw him drop only one catch. Siddons was also a talented Australian rules footballer who played two VFL games for Sydney in 1984, shortly before his first-class cricket career began.
Just like his switch to South Australia in the early 1990s, Siddons' move into the coaching ranks has been smooth. He enjoyed a hands-on role with the Centre of Excellence and Australian international teams, which was something that eluded him during his playing days. And then in October 2007 he accepted an offer to coach Bangladesh after initially turning down the job because his terms and conditions did not match those of the Bangladesh board.
Jono Russell October 2007
Batting & Fielding