Siddle back in saddle as 200 club lies in wait

Peter Siddle celebrates capturing Moeen Ali’s wicket in the fifth Ashes Test. Picture: ReutersLONDON: A renewed Peter Siddle is on the verge of joining Australia’s 200 club, and has the backing of coach Darren Lehmann to reignite his flagging career.

Siddle breathed live into his Test career with a match-winning six-wicket haul in Australia’s innings-and-46-run victory over England in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval on Sunday.

After admitting his disappointment at being left out of the preceding four Tests, the 30-year-old proved the most reliable of Australia’s pace attack when called on by retiring skipper Michael Clarke.

Now he seems destined to become the 15th Australian to reach 200 Test wickets.

Siddle’s terrific performance at The Oval, in which he was Australia’s most economical performer while also grabbing wickets at crucial times, has boosted him to 198 Test scalps.

And, according to Lehmann, he is very much in the frame to add to that haul.

That is despite Australia’s wealth of fast-bowling talent, and Lehmann’s personal preference for express pace.

“The way he bowled, he was fantastic this game,” Lehmann said.

“If he gets it in the right areas, he’s a quality bowler and his record speaks for itself.

“So we’re really pleased that he bowled the way he did and there’s always a future.

“We’re not saying we pick out-and-out fast bowlers all the time – obviously it may seem that way, but we pick the best team to try and win every game.”

There was considerable conjecture about Siddle’s place in the line-up for The Oval Test, with Australian great Shane Warne publicly questioning why the veteran had been selected ahead of young gun Pat Cummins.

But his return of 2-32 in the first innings, 4-35 in the second and a combined total of 17 maidens for the match highlighted his effectiveness.

When Australia needed a breakthrough, invariably it was Siddle who delivered – no more memorably than by claiming the final two wickets of the match following a lengthy rain delay.

They were traits sorely missed by Australia following the shock retirement of Ryan Harris on the eve of the series.

“He was excellent in both innings [and] gave us some control,” Lehmann added.

“So hats off to him, he was absolutely brilliant.”

Whether it be in the two-Test tour of Bangladesh in October, or during the Australian summer that will follow, it seems like Siddle will get more chances to cement his spot in the team.

Meanwhile, England coach Trevor Bayliss believes Australia should worry more about learning how to scrap at the crease and less about English pitches.

Outgoing captain Clarke was critical of the decks used in what was the shortest five-Test Ashes series ever.

Clarke suggested fans were shortchanged after none of the contests reached a fifth day and two were close to being two-day Tests.

“I’ve got a feeling, from the conversations I’ve had with a lot of the groundsmen in this country, they’re a little bit disappointed they haven’t been able to do as they’ve wanted to do,” Clarke said.

“I’d like to see them back themselves and go with that and not be persuaded by what’s said in the media or what the commentators say.”

Bayliss felt it was a cop-out.

“The wicket didn’t change out there in 10 minutes from one innings to the next, and it certainly didn’t change in an hour and a half at Trent Bridge either,” Bayliss said.

“Every game we played, there was someone who scored runs on it and other guys made starts.

“It is different to what these guys are used to. The batters just have to learn to fight a little bit harder on these kind of wickets.”