There’s a good vibe around the group with Justin Langer in charge, says Peter Siddle, the paceman who has a chance for a Test comeback after a gap of close to two years.
Siddle played the last of his 62 Tests back in November 2016. Now, in the absence of injured quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Siddle is the only experienced paceman apart from Mitchell Starc, and with a reputation of being a workhorse, he could well get a look-in for the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai, starting 7 October.
“Probably the toughest conditions that we’ve come across in world cricket. But it’s enjoyable too. For me, personally, in the UK the last six months, it’s nice to get some warm weather,” joked Siddle, who was busy with Essex till recently.
No matter how old, experienced or how many tests you’ve played, it’s always exciting being named in a 🇦🇺 test squad! 🙌🏻🏏 @ Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) https://t.co/FQAqZ4nFsZ— Peter Siddle (@petersiddle403) September 11, 2018
If he gets into the playing XI, on a pitch likely to aid run-scoring and spin bowling, Siddle knows that he will have his work cut out, much like he did back in 2014, when he picked up two wickets in two Tests at an average of 108.5.
“Conditions are going to be what gets rolled up on the day. That’s always the one here, you wait until the first game, the first day to see what the wickets are going to really look like,” he said.
“The Dubai wicket has had a lot of cricket played on it this Asia Cup. So you can see the whole square’s been used a lot more. The previous series when we came here, the wickets was a bit more flatter, so it took a few days to actually break up. But this series it looks like it will break up a lot earlier, so spin is going to play a part.
“For me, it’s going to be similar to what I do in Australia, hold up an end, building pressure, and put the batsman under a lot of pressure to generate those wickets. So I don’t think my plan changes a hell of a lot from different conditions. Probably more so here, it’s about hitting the stumps, making them play a lot more, and having the fielders in the right positions.”
With Pakistan, Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan, the leg-spinners, are likely to be key factors, and the Australians are training specifically to counter them – “We’ve got a contest against those two guys, we’re having good discussions about it – different deliveries, what to watch … it’s been good for us tail-enders as well to hear from different batters, the way they go about it, the way they watch the ball,” said Siddle.
It’s about hitting the stumps, making them play a lot more, and having the fielders in the right positions
This will be Australia’s first Test series since the ill-fated tour of South Africa earlier this year, which ended with the home side winning 3-1 and Australia without the services of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. Soon after, Darren Lehmann stepped down as coach and was replaced by Justin Langer.
“It’s always fresh when a new person, a new coach, comes in and their personality and the way they want to coach and lead the team, it always gives a good vibe around the group,” pointed out Siddle.
“It’s been enjoyable. We know he is very intense. I think people could understand the way he went about the game when he played, how switched on (he was), how hard he worked, they can probably get a good understanding how his coaching regime is going to be.
“He knows his plans, he knows the way he wants the team to go, and I think the boys are getting a good feel for that these past couple of days.”
With Smith and Warner going out, Australia were also left with a leadership vacuum. Tim Paine has filled the vacancy, but has had to do it without too many seniors to lean on. Siddle, with all his experience, might prove valuable in that regard.
“Just from an outside point of view, the side in the last little bit has lacked a little bit of leadership. I think having the (tag of) captain or the vice-captain or any of those terms … it's just about being a leader in your own right,” he said.
“Just doing what I do, lead by example, help out the young guys and help out the group. It's stuff I normally do, but you just want to get the right things done.”
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