Always a team man, Peter Siddle's retirement hits the sweet spot between too early and too late
Siddle's international retirement does not seem too early like Kumar Sangakkara, who scored four back-to-back centuries before bidding goodbye. Neither is it like Kapil Dev's, who kept dragging his body for the sake of a record.
Peter Siddle was never one to run through sides with his raw pace. He was always a very disciplined bowler who prided himself on landing the ball on a patch all day long and not giving anything to the batsman.
This was the personification of Test cricket. The battle of attrition. Score off the good ones if you are skilled enough. You ain't getting it on a platter. This was the philosophy that Peter Siddle followed, and successfully so throughout his 67-match Test career.
An unsung hero
An average of a shade over 30 will not tell you the asset that he proved for Australia over the years. But, an economy rate of 2.92 might give you a better perspective of what the pacer stood for.
After making his debut against India in 2008, Siddle had a successful few years. This included eight 5-wicket hauls, the highlight being figures of 6/54 against England in the 2010 Ashes at Brisbane.
The medium-pace bowler somewhat hit his peak when he aggregated 33 wickets in consecutive Ashes series (17 and 16 respectively). This came on the back of a successful Test series against India in which he picked up 23 wickets.
However, a bad patch followed and Siddle was out of the Test reckoning for two years. He made a comeback in October 2018 in a two-match Test series against Pakistan in UAE.
Ashes 2019 was his next pit stop where Siddle picked up 7 wickets from three Test matches while conceding 295 runs. But, these figures do not justify his effort in the series. He was extremely unlucky and at least five to six chances off his bowling went begging.
That said, with that series over, there was not much chance for him to be back in the national colours again. With the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins almost irresistible and James Pattinson and Michael Neser leapfrogging him in the pecking order, his gentle pace accompanied by his control might have served a purpose in England but with the Kookaburra ball and in the Australian conditions, he possibly no longer had the pace to be effective and claim a spot in the XI ahead of the quickies.
While announcing his retirement, Siddle revealed that he had discussions with coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine about hanging his boots in the Ashes itself but an opportunity of calling it a day in home conditions prevented him from doing so.
"JL, Painey and I, we chatted about it early on in the Ashes series, there was a possibility [of finishing in England]. But there was a bit of back-and-forth about the chances of maybe being able to do it back home if things fall into place.
I was pretty content to do it over there, but that small, little hope that maybe I might get a chance back in Australia in front of family and friends, I was happy to take the gamble and see if it happened. Obviously it didn't, but very content with the career I've had," Siddle said.
Peter Siddle International Career:— Fox Sports Lab (@FoxSportsLab) December 28, 2019
Tests: 67 (2008-19)
Wickets: 221 @ 30.66 (13th most for AUS)
First Test Wicket: Sachin Tendulkar
Best Bowling: 6-54 v England at Gabba in 2010 (including a hat-trick)
ODIs: 20 (2009-19)
T20Is: 2 (2009-10)
FAn underwhelming white-ball career
Siddle also got his ODI and T20I caps but those careers did not pan out the way he would have expected . The pacer picked up 17 wickets from 20 ODIs at 43.71 and an economy of 4.95. He played only two T20Is, in which he picked up three wickets.
Not many pace bowlers have a career spanning over a decade and Siddle attributes his fitness and his lifestyle changes for his success. Although he does not shy away from coaching roles in the future, Siddle wants to continue playing Shield cricket for Victoria.
It was just a couple days ago when he dismissed Glenn Maxwell in the Big Bash League, and a Maxwell in ferocious form. Siddle aims to continue providing his services for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League and for Essex in the County Championship.
"Sids has been the heart and soul of the team for a long time. I remember coming up through with him through the academies and even back then he was one of the great team men, something he has continued to this day.
"He has a massive heart and is a fantastic bowler. He'll be very much missed around the group. He's been unbelievably good for our younger fast bowlers over the last 18 months and been a great support for me during that time, as well," skipper Tim Paine gave Siddle a hearty farewell.
Fans across the globe possibly have a couple more years to witness his metronomic execution in T20 leagues and domestic competitions, but it's the end of the road for him as far as international cricket is concerned.
Few professional cricketers are able to dispassionately judge the perfect moment for walking into the sunset, and Siddle is one of the lucky few who have hit the sweet spot.
©Cricket World 2019