TELFORD VICE, Perth
PETER Siddle played a test against SA for the first time at the Wanderers in February 2009, when the crowd delighted in telling him, over and over, that he “is a wanker”.
No player deserves to be abused by spectators, but it would be difficult for Siddle to argue that he didn’t expect to provoke some kind of unpleasant reaction.
He huffed. He puffed. He strutted. He swaggered. He seemed to have something to sneer at batsmen even before the delivery he had just bowled had smacked into the gloves of Brad Haddin behind the stumps.
Siddle was, to South African eyes, the epitome of the arrogant Aussie.
But times change. His top lip no longer bristles with a moustache straight out of a police style guide, he has become a vegan, and he doesn’t think tests between Australia and SA have to be fuelled by nastiness.
“When you lose a bit of experience from both sides you probably that confidence and you lose the players that played with the previous angry heads,” Siddle said on Monday in Perth, where the first test will start at the WACA on Thursday.
“That experience probably takes away from the game a little, but we have always had good battles because both fast bowling line-ups have been very strong.
“It’s been a battle of who is going to take the most wickets and stand up for their side to get a result.
“Like Dale Steyn said (on Sunday), you watch good fast bowling and that gets you going.
“It’s true. You watch the other team and if they are bowling well it means there is something in the wicket or something there for fast bowlers.”
Siddle’s most recent home test against SA was the Adelaide epic of November 2012, when Faf du Plessis, on debut, batted for more than a day to score an undefeated 110 that saved the match for the visitors.
Du Plessis’ biggest threat was Siddle, who huffed and puffed for 33 overs in the second innings and took 4/65.
For long periods it looked like their duel would be won by which of them did not collapse with exhaustion.
“That was a long match,” Siddle said. “It cost me in the end – I didn’t end up playing in Perth (the last match of the series, which SA won to clinch the rubber).
“But those are the challenges you love about test cricket. You don’t get to see stuff like that in other forms of the game.
“Faf at the other end, batting all day, defensively. That’s the great thing about Test cricket; the different challenges, the tactics, how it goes up and down from one side to the other, that’s what exciting about it.”
And to think some South Africans still say Siddle is a wanker.