I have been critical on this blog about the continued selection of Peter Siddle in the Australian cricket team. The end to Siddle’s Ashes series has done nothing move me away from that view.
There can be no doubt of two things when it comes to Peter Siddle:
1. He has been a valiant servant of the game in Australia during a period of down performance by the team; and
2. If some of Australia’s younger players showed as much heart as he does every time he steps on the field in a baggy green cap, then Australian cricket would be a much better place.
Despite those factors, it strikes me in the aftermath of a 3-0 flogging by England now is the time to consider whether Siddle continues to lead the Australian bowling attack into the next series which is only 86 days away.
For that purpose I have examined the last 10 test matches Siddle has played in and come to the unmistakeable conclusion that on form there must be a massive question mark over his selection. Consider these numbers for Siddle and Australia this year (given that all of the test matches have been played in 2013):
· Australia has won 1 test match, lost 7 and drawn 2. Australia has not won any of its last 9 test matches.
· Siddle is Australia’s highest wicket taker during that span with 29 wickets at an average of 32.06. This is entirely understandable though flattering statistic given that Siddle is the only bowler from Australia who has played all 10 test matches in 2013.
· The more compelling statistic is that Siddle has only averaged 1.6 wickets per innings during that 10 match span (there having been 18 innings for the bowlers in that period).
· In the last 3 test match innings bowled by Siddle he failed to take a wicket and his captain only bowled him 3 overs of the 40 bowled by Australia as it strived for victory in the final test match of the series.
· During this same period, Siddle is striking every 11 and a half overs.
Are these the numbers of the leader of a bowling attack? Many will consider that I am judging Peter Siddle harshly here given that Australia has hardly been in the best form but it begs the question as to what the other “leaders” of bowling attacks in other test teams have done during the same span. Here are some numbers for the bowlers that I consider to be the leaders of their respective bowling attacks:
· James Anderson (England): 10 test matches, 41 wickets, average 28.12.
· Dale Steyn (South Africa): 5 test matches, 33 wickets, average 12.36.
· Ravichandran Ashwin (India): 4 test matches, 29 wickets, average 20.10.
· Trent Boult (New Zealand): 7 test matches, 23 wickets, average 29.13.
The top three bowlers from list play for teams that have been undefeated in 2013. Trent Boult plays for New Zealand which has put up a record of 7:0:4:3 during the same period. He averages though 2.1 wickets per innings.
Looking at those numbers: is Peter Siddle really the leader of the bowling attack that Australia needs lift it out of the current doldrums that Australian cricket is in? This is particularly so with the re-emergence from injury of Ryan Harris. For the record his numbers in England were: 4 test matches, 24 wickets at an average of 19.58. Those are numbers that put him in the Anderson, Steyn and Ashwin category.
There can be no denying Siddle’s heart and there can be no denying that he is a fantastic team man. I have commented in the past that on unhelpful wickets Siddle is a little predicable and lacking penetration. Australia needs now to look to the future and build a bowling attack around Ryan Harris rather than Siddle which will lead to the question of whether Siddle’s heart is enough to keep him in the running for a bowling attack he is not leading given that lack of penetration.
The first test at the Gabba is 86 days away. It could also be said that the start of Australia’s rebuilding of its test team, its ranking (which has now slipped to 5th in the world) and its reputation also begins in 86 days and that rebuilding phase cannot occur in my view whilst Australia includes Siddle in the line-up. Now is time for a change because relying on heart is patently not enough.