Marsh Sheffield Shield 2021-22
Pedal power has tireless Siddle eyeing new contract
On his 37th birthday, Peter Siddle explains how a rekindled passion for cycling and a pursuit of his first half Ironman has him bowling as well as ever
Former Australia quick Peter Siddle is firmly in the twilight of his career, but you can't tell just from watching him bowl.
The veteran seamer, who turns 37 today, has started this summer's domestic season as well if not better than any of the 16 he's played before it.
With five- and four-wicket hauls already this season, the Tasmania paceman sits sixth on the Marsh Sheffield Shield wicket tally with 14 scalps at 20.78, and he's also snagged two three-wicket hauls in the Marsh Cup to be the joint second-leading bowler in the one-day domestic competition ahead of Friday's match against Western Australia.
What's more, he looks as fit and strong as ever and has even surprised himself with how good his body feels after the first half of yet another season.
The 67-Test veteran tells cricket.com.au his longevity is due to a new exercise regime, a healthy lifestyle and an unwavering enjoyment of the game.
Siddle, who was hoping to compete in his first half Ironman triathlon during the pre-season until the NSW COVID-19 outbreak derailed his plans, says mixing up his training patterns has helped keep him fresh and enjoying the grind of first-class cricket.
"For me, it's just keeping myself busy with different hobbies," he says.
"Over the last three or four years I've really got back into my cycling and triathlon stuff, and just doing some different training keeps me fresh.
"When you're doing the same old cricket preparation – running and bowling – it sort of takes its toll.
"The riding helps a lot with keeping my legs off the ground ... I've been able to do less running around the pre-season and around games by getting on the bike more, getting out on the roads and enjoying doing something different."
Siddle has even recruited teammates Ben McDermott and Jake Doran to his tiny peloton, with the trio often hitting the winding roads outside of Hobart to explore southern Tasmania's picturesque landscape.
But given its mountainous terrain, there's not too many flat roads around Siddle's adopted home and he jokes that it's usually him "up the front pulling the (young boys) along".
"As much as it's a nuisance, (the hills) do help you get stronger on the bike," he says.
"They're both actually good cyclists so it's good fun when we get out together and pull each other along and push each other, so it's pretty nice to have some buddies."
Siddle started triathlon training during Melbourne's prolonged lockdowns last year before his move to Tasmania, and what began as a COVID hobby quickly turned into an obsession.
He completed his first Olympic distance triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) in May last year and was hoping to compete in his first half Ironman event (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) in Port Macquarie after returning from England in September, but the event was cancelled.
"Since I turned 30, I've looked after myself a lot better than I probably did previously, so that's definitely a plus," he says.
"But I think it's just about enjoying the game and I love still getting out there and playing it.
"Over the last few years, speaking with all the boys I played with for Australia and have since retired, (they say) it gets a little bit boring and it's not as fun once you put the boots up."
As for his future, Siddle wants to keep playing for as long as he can and plans to return to the UK next year for another English summer with Essex.
"I love it over there, it might be my last year over there, it might not. I'll just keep playing and see how much longer I go for," he says.
"I know that I can't keep playing forever because there are other guys that do need to play and do need learn and get their opportunities.
"But if I'm still performing then there's no reason just to walk away and give someone else a spot for no reason.
"I still want those young guys to learn and hopefully by me pushing them and playing and even just being able to mentor them, that will then help them grow.
"Playing alongside young (Lawrence) Neil-Smith, (Gabe) Bell and (Riley Meredith) in the one-dayers, seeing those guys get their opportunities and perform, it's exciting for me."
Siddle is also in discussions to go around again next season with Tasmania.
"We're in a good place, we're playing some good cricket, there's some exciting young players around the group, so I'd like to go around and see if in the next (few years) we can contend for some trophies," he said.
As another birthday rolls around, particularly in an Ashes summer, the reason November 25 is significant for the retired Test quick is obvious for most cricket fans.
But the anniversary of his iconic Ashes hat-trick is always filled with mixed emotions for Siddle given it's also the day in 2014 that his friend Phillip Hughes was fatally struck at the SCG before passing away two days later.
"It's a great moment and something I'll probably look back on a little bit more once I'm done," he says.
"But it's also a tough time of the year with what happened to Hughesy around that time as well.
Having played in Tasmania's final Shield game of the year this week, against Western Australia in Hobart, the two sides will face off again on Friday in a Marsh Cup match before veteran heads off to Adelaide for another KFC BBL season with the Strikers.