Vengeful Siddle weary of fruitless Ashes efforts

Siddle has played all five tests in the three Ashes series he has contested, but has ended up on the losing side each time.

Siddle deserves better than the patronising "workhorse" tag. (Getty Images)


SYDNEY:
If test series were won by will power and determination alone, Peter Siddle could probably bring the Ashes back to Australia by himself.

Whole-hearted, hard-working, bluff, blue collar - the epithets that attach themselves to the Victorian seamer all speak to his uncomplicated honesty and lack of airs and graces.

Famously now fuelled by a vegetarian diet, Siddle is no snarling enforcer in the mould of Glenn McGrath and attempts to cast him in that role have been counter-productive.

Still, with 167 wickets in 46 tests at an average a shade under 30 and ranked joint seventh in the ICC's test rankings, he deserves better than the patronising "workhorse" tag.

That is not to say, though, that one of his chief attributes is not a durability apparently unique among Australia's current crop of quicks.

Siddle has played all five tests in the three Ashes series he has contested, taking 51 wickets at an average of 32 runs apiece.

Each time, though, he has ended up on the losing side and that has hardened his desire to finally rest the delicate earthenware symbol of Anglo-Australian rivalry in his hands.

"We've played in a lot of matches against these guys now, and lost. There's a lot of revenge we want," he said last week.

"There's about five of us who have played in pretty much the last three and lost them all."

"It's not a good record to have. It's not something we want to look back on when we're retired."

"You want to hold that urn. There's a lot to turn around but the squad's strong."

As one commentator said recently, Siddle would probably be quite happy to bowl from both ends if he thought it would help Australia win an Ashes test.

At the Adelaide Oval last year, he bowled himself into the ground in a 33 gruelling overs in an attempt to dismiss South Africa and give his country a 1-0 series lead.

Siddle could not have done more but despite his efforts on the final day, the match was drawn and Graeme Smith's side dominated the decider in Perth to win the series.

The accepted wisdom is that Siddle's work ethic derives from his upbringing in rural Victoria, where he was a competitive woodchopper until taking up cricket in his teens.

He has not been immune to the injuries that are part and parcel of being a fast bowler these days and a back problem disrupted a nascent test career that had started promisingly with the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar at Mohali in 2008.

If the first test lasts that long, Siddle will turn 29 on the fifth day at the Gabba and England's players will need no reminding of how he celebrated his 26th birthday.

The opening day of the 2010-11 Ashes series at the same ground was in the balance until Siddle dismissed Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in consecutive deliveries to achieve that rarest of feats - an Ashes hat-trick.

Siddle's six for 54 in 16 overs remain his best test figures but were not enough to help Australia to any better than a battling draw.

Like the rest of his team mates, Siddle's performances deteriorated as the series went on and by the time the tourists had sealed a 3-1 victory, Australia's pace unit looked like a demoralised rabble in the face of England's batting onslaught.

They were revitalised under new bowling coach Craig McDermott to put India's much vaunted batting line-up to the sword in a 4-0 home triumph the following year.

Although the popular myth has it that McDermott's only role was to exhort them to bowl a better line and fuller length, he also had them operating as a cohesive unit with specific plans to build pressure on the Indian batsmen.

McDermott stepped down last year because of the gruelling travel schedule that went with the job but has returned for the Ashes series.

Siddle's value to the Australia team was amply illustrated when he was one of three players put under wraps in Brisbane last week with his captain Michael Clarke and injury-prone fellow quick Ryan Harris.

With Harris and Mitchell Johnson, Siddle will carry a large portion of Australia's hopes of a victory at the Gabba in a pace attack he believes will embody the virtue with which he is most often credited.

"That's going to be the strength of this bowling attack, that we can be honest to each other," he said.

"And that will bring out the best in us."

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