Eight maidens to victory

In a series speckled with Indian wickets, the spell Peter Siddle remembered most fondly was one that passed without reward

Peter Siddle celebrates the dismissal of MS Dhoni, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day, January 15, 2012

Peter Siddle had a memorable series with 23 wickets at 18.65  •  Getty Images

In a series speckled with Indian wickets, the spell Peter Siddle remembered most fondly was one that passed without reward. On the third evening of the SCG Test, he and Ben Hilfenhaus delivered eight consecutive maidens between them, squeezing Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir with precision pace bowling of the highest standard on the same pitch Michael Clarke had used to construct his 329.
While no wickets were forthcoming during the spell, Siddle remembered it as emblematic of Australia's bowling across the series, which at times reached heights not even the bowlers themselves might have thought possible. The bowling coach Craig McDermott has moulded the attack in his own image, and its combination of speed, swing and stamina has been a rare sight.
"Just the way individually everyone has stuck to their guns and played their role perfectly at each end when bowling has been superb," Siddle said after claiming the match award in Adelaide. "The batters have set us up at times as well and we just knew we had to go out there and be patient.
"I think the best bowling spell we had was probably in Sydney when me and Hilfy bowled a partnership, we didn't get any wickets but we bowled [eight] overs straight of maidens. I think that just summed up the summer and what we wanted to achieve. In every match that we bowled, that is what we wanted to go about it. That was perfect and showed what we were all about."
Siddle proved himself to be the rugged heart of the Australian attack, a position never more evident than on another late afternoon earlier in the series. Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had pushed India into a position of power when Siddle burst one through Dravid's defences, then stood crestfallen when replays revealed a no-ball. Redoubling his efforts, he proceeded to puncture Tendulkar's defence before stumps, a mighty blow for India and source of a surge of confidence among the hosts.
"I had to turn it around or else the bowling coach and captain would have really been on my back," Siddle said, grinning. "Getting a wicket off a no ball and then getting one quickly around the corner is always pleasing, it makes everyone a little bit happier.
"But I think any wicket, it doesn't matter who you get, any Test wicket is obviously a good achievement it doesn't matter if it's Sachin or a Yadav at No.11, you want to get all 10 and you need to get 20 for the match, it doesn't matter which one you get, as long as you get all 20 like we have been."
Siddle said the partnerships established by the bowlers had been a major part of the attack's improvement on last summer, when England's batsmen made both he and Hilfenhaus look ordinary by comparison.
"There is always a lot of emphasis on batting partnerships and our big emphasis coming into this summer was bowling partnerships," he said. "We went about that spot on and no matter what attack we had, we stuck to our guns, we did the job, and that was our plan, we didn't steer away from that.
"We knew every morning we rocked up and had to bowl in partnerships and be consistent and be patient and I think it showed in the performances. Everyone that bowled got the job done and lucky enough a few of us got the rewards."
Well as they bowled, however, Australia's pacemen know there is room to excel further. Aiding this will be the return to fitness of James Pattinson and Pat Cummins, which would allow the national selectors choice of a fearsome arsenal for their next Test assignment in the West Indies.
"The way we are going as a unit definitely but we still have room for improvement," Siddle said. "We are going in the right direction. The good thing about the whole summer was the number of guys who played from [Mitchell] Starc and Jimmy Patto. There was a big turn around from the start of the summer to now but we never changed, we always stuck to the same game plan which was to be patient, bowl in good partnerships and we would get the rewards.
"That showed no matter which line-up we put forward on game day we got the job done. At different times each individual got the rewards."

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