Peter Siddle’s world ranking, which happens to be higher than any bowler on either side in the Ashes, is proof of his readiness to lead the attack in the first Test.
That is the view from behind the stumps and in the nets of Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin.
Haddin has provided a timely reminder of the Victorian fast bowler’s place in the world pace pecking order, in making the point that experience and track record are far more important than pre-series wickets.
A glance at the International Cricket Council Test rankings confirms that Siddle, at No.5, sits one place above Graeme Swann, the best off-spinner England has produced, and two spots ahead of Jimmy Anderson, who recently passed 300 Test wickets and was described by England bowling coach David Saker as the most skilled bowler in the world. Stuart Broad is further back in the rankings, tied with Morne Morkel at No.9.
Haddin’s strong endorsement for Siddle, who admits he struggled for rhythm and wickets in lead-up matches for Australia A and a tour match at Somerset, increases the likelihood that he will lead a pace trio also comprising James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc at Trent Bridge from Wednesday.
Those three paceman bowled as a posse at Australia’s first training session in Nottingham on Sunday, and all were rested for the preceding warm-up match against Worcestershire.
”He was outstanding,” Haddin said after facing Siddle in the nets. ”He’s a pretty seasoned campaigner, so he cranked it up a bit leading into the Test match. It was quite frightening with the three quicks in there.”
Siddle took 1-117 at Taunton and no more than one wicket in each of his four innings during the A tour, and by his own admission needed to show he was ”up and about” to hold his place for Trent Bridge.
But since his recall for the third Test in Sri Lanka two years ago, Siddle has been easily Australia’s most dependable and successful fast bowler, with 33 wickets at 27 from nine matches. The next best is Starc, with 20 wickets at 34 in five Tests, followed by Mitchell Johnson and Pattinson.
Siddle is also the only member of the Australian attack, apart from all-rounder Shane Watson, who has played Tests in England.
”I think you can judge different players by where they’re at in their careers,” Haddin said.
”Sometimes guys need to get some wickets and feel confident going into big games but Siddle, he’s proved himself over a long time now. He knows exactly where he’s at. I wouldn’t read too much into the actual stats of the A tour and the tour game.
”He’s strong, he’s ready to go, he’s a seasoned campaigner. We can dance around the issue but he’s our most experienced bowler and he’s proven at this level. It shows with his ranking in the world.”
With all the bowlers fit, an apparent vindication of the controversial rotation system that was designed to have them ready for precisely this moment, there is fierce competition for pace spots. Ryan Harris and Jackson Bird perform a similar role to Siddle although they, too, struggled to take wickets on a thankless pitch in the second innings at Worcestershire.
Haddin confirmed he would bat at No.7 at Trent Bridge, which suggests Australia will go in with three quicks, spinner Nathan Lyon and Watson, but not James Faulkner.
The veteran wicketkeeper dismissed the possibility of having to fill in as captain for Michael Clarke, whose back is a constant concern. Clarke was stiff and sore after his century at Worcester but loosened up after a while at the Australians’ first training session in Nottingham.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.