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Cricket: Siddle excited to get started with Essex

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 April 2018

New Essex signing Peter Siddle poses for a photograph in the dressing room at The Cloudfm County Ground (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

New Essex signing Peter Siddle poses for a photograph in the dressing room at The Cloudfm County Ground (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

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Jamie Porter was keen to make the acquaintance of Essex’s incoming Australian quick, Peter Siddle.

New Essex signing Peter Siddle poses for a photograph at The Cloudfm County Ground (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)New Essex signing Peter Siddle poses for a photograph at The Cloudfm County Ground (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

The pair had barely shaken hands when Porter whipped out his mobile phone to show his new team-mate a video he had saved specially for the occasion.

It was from Siddle’s only previous visit to Chelmsford, three summers ago, as part of the Australian touring party playing their final warm-up match before taking on England in the first Ashes Test.

“Yeah, he clean-bowled me in the second innings,” admitted Essex’s overseas bowler for the first five Specsavers County Championship matches of 2018.

“He had that up on his phone. He showed me the second innings; he didn’t show the first innings when I smacked everyone around.

“There were a few sixes up in the grandstand there. There were plenty of balls going everywhere. I’ll try and find the footage and show the guys that.”

Siddle was the fifth of Porter’s six wickets in the match, and one of the 50 he took in his first full season in the Essex team.

He took 55 the following season and 75 last year for the champions to gain him a place in Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, announced this week.

“The season he had was outstanding,” said the possessor of 62 baggy-green Test caps, in which he claimed 211 scalps.

“Hopefully I can play a part in taking a little bit of the workload off him early on, but still see him go well. I’ll just try and help him out as much as I can.”

Siddle has a reputation as a hostile fast bowler, who gets plenty of bounce and is a willing workhorse. His on-field demeanour and loud, long appeals belie his off-field bonhomie.

All are attributes that can be applied to Neil Wagner, the New Zealand Test bowler who spent two spells with Essex last season, and who takes over the overseas role in a month’s time. They could almost be cloned.

“Wagner has been likened to me in the way he goes about the game, and how I play. We are very similar players. He also followed me to Lancashire a few seasons back, so it’s becoming a common trend that we play at the same places,” added Siddle.

“I like the way he goes about his business: he’s a feisty fast bowler and he likes to have a bit of a bat, too. I guess I’ll play the same role and hopefully I perform as well as he did here.”

Siddle was due to play for Essex in the T20 in 2012, but had to pull out with a lower back injury.

It is a common theme in his career: after playing 11 Championship matches for Nottinghamshire in 2015, and a brief stint with Lancashire the following year, he was unable to fulfil a two-year contract back at Trent Bridge in 2016 and 2017 for the same reason.

The strike bowler for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield will finally make his Essex debut today in the season’s opener against Yorkshire, just three days after landing in this country. He has a decent record at Headingley: he helped skittle England for 102 there back in 2009, taking 5-21, as well as a four-wicket haul for Notts.

“I just like English grounds,” he said. “They suit the way I bowl: stand the seam up, a little bit of movement back and forth, a slight bit of swing, that’ll suit me well.”

It remains to be seen whether Siddle takes the new-ball with Porter, or comes on as first-change as Wagner did latterly last season. He is not bothered either way.

“I don’t want to come across here and just play cricket,” he said. “I like to play a big part in the team environment and make my stay worthwhile. Hopefully I can help Essex start off well in the challenge to win back-to-back championships.”

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