After 35 Test Matches and at the age of 28, Peter Siddle has forged a new and unexpected identity on the field.
Once the lionhearted woodchopper, Siddle is now the crafty, reliable and steady leader in Australia’s bowling attack.
He has made a remarkable transformation by bursting out of the cliched but accurate “trier” and “bang it into the pitch” tag.
Images of a red faced Siddle hurdling down bouncers and predictable short of a length deliveries became typical of his career until 12-18 months ago when he reassessed his approach to the long form of the game.
Siddle understood that becoming a long term test bowler in the modern game required more than just raw effort on match day. He changed his meat dominant diet to a vegan diet and he trained with the Carlton Football Club to improve his fitness. He has become a true professional athlete by watching what goes in his body.
Criticism of Siddle has been warranted ever since his first delivery in test cricket smashed into the side of Gautam Gambhir’s helmet. Too much brawn and not enough subtly to his craft has been my main objection.
ABC Radio sports commentator Glenn Mitchell described Siddle as “an old-fashioned run-up hard, hit the deck hard type of bowler.”
Siddle of the past was nothing more or nothing less than an “old fashioned” up and down and no nonsense fast bowler, very much like Merv Hughes. Yet, Siddle has proved to be so much more than what Mitchell described.
Yes, Michael Clarke can still rely on Siddle to charge in all day without complaint and lowered effort but Clarke can now also rely on Siddle to outthink the man wielding the willow on the other end.
Whether that is drawing the batsman forward with a few deliberate full swinging deliveries and then following up with the one that moves the other way, Siddle is beginning to show that he has the full bags of tricks.
Like, Clarke holding Australia’s batting together, Siddle is carrying Australia’s bowling attack. As it stands, the skipper and Siddle are Australia’s two most vital players.
With Australia’s most talented fast bowler out for the summer, James Pattinson, and Pat Cummins continued absence, Siddle is virtually leading a second string attack in form and talent. His absence was obvious in Perth when South African pair Amla and Smith feasted on Australia’s state-like bowling attack.
With Siddle fit and healthy, Australia will not lose this current series or a test match to Sri Lanka.
Siddle is there at Australia’s hour of need and is always there in the face of opposition batsmen with relentless consistency not just senseless bravado.