Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Langer's counsel crucial in Siddons' return to coaching
South Australia coach Jamie Siddons is back at the helm of the Redbacks after stepping away from the role before the Big Bash
Andrew Ramsey in Adelaide
13 February 2020, 03:21 PM AEST
It was sage advice from a range of trusted sources including Australia men's team coach Justin Langer that has helped Jamie Siddons navigate some difficult off-field terrain and back to the Redbacks' helm.
Siddons stepped away from his role as coach of South Australia's Marsh Sheffield Shield team last November for "personal reasons" but says he's excited to return to the job for the second half of the Shield season that gets underway tomorrow.
While Siddons was reluctant to elaborate on the reasons for his break from coaching duties, which was announced prior to SA's most recent Shield game against Tasmania in Hobart, he admitted he had benefited greatly from the opportunity to freshen up during the season hiatus for the KFC Big Bash League.
And he revealed that Langer was among the friends and confidantes to whom he turned for support during his time away from a game that has been known to consume him, having spent time with the national coach prior to Australia's Test match against Pakistan in Adelaide last November.
"I went to their (Test) team meeting, I went to their coaching staff meeting, I went to their top-up training session before the Test match," Siddons said at Adelaide Oval today, on the eve of his team's Shield match against Western Australia.
"And JL was one of those people that I spoke to quite a lot over this period, just to see how he goes about it.
"He's been through some ups and downs as well through his career, and even as a coach coming back in. So he's always a good person to talk to."
Siddons, third on the all-time Shield runs scorers list and a former coach of Bangladesh and Wellington (in New Zealand) as well as ex-assistant coach to the Australia men's team, cited performance coach and leadership mentor Ben Crowe as another person to whom he turned for greater clarity.
Crowe has become best known for the work he's undertaken with world number-one women's tennis player Ash Barty and Richmond's AFL premiership captain Trent Cotchin.
He has also been closely involved with a number of Australia cricketers and teams in the wake of the Cape Town incident in 2018.
"He was one guy I had a great chat to," Siddons said of Crowe.
"He's a great person to put your life back in perspective, and got me back on the right track."
Siddons revealed he had foregone a break at the end of the previous summer due to a number of off-field events including the death of his father, Jim, in Mildura last May, and it became obvious as the current season kicked into gear that he was badly run-down.
As a result, and due to his intense commitment to coaching, he felt his performance was suffering along with his wellbeing.
"The last few months have been a really good break for me, I needed it," Siddons said. "I needed to get away.
"The team was … not suffering, but I wasn't doing my job as well as I needed to do and I just needed to refresh, so I thought Big Bash was a great time to do it.
"Just looking from afar, I know how much I missed it and how much I needed to get the batteries recharged.
"I know how much I missed coaching, I know how much I missed being around the boys and leading them and leading the coaching group and the competitive nature of the game.
"I'm always looking at the scores, and I'm one of those coaches that looks at every ball bowled, so I probably need to relax as far as that goes. But I'm feeling great now."
In Siddons' absence, SA's Shield team was led by assistant coaches Greg Blewett (former Test batter) and Luke Butterworth (ex-Tasmania allrounder) and recorded their first victory in almost two years against Tasmania in Hobart.
But despite their recent lack of success after reaching consecutive Shield finals under Siddons in 2015-16 and 2016-17, SA currently sits fourth and just over eight points adrift of second-placed Queensland (26.29) and barely seven behind third-ranked WA (25.68)
As a result, the match starting at Adelaide Oval tomorrow on what appears to be a bowler-friendly pitch carries great significance for teams eyeing a berth in the final behind runaway leaders New South Wales (40.35 points).
With five specialist seamers in their 12-man squad – Chadd Sayers, Joe Mennie, Nick Winter, Wes Agar and Daniel Worrall (returning from injury) – the Redbacks face a tough call on who will be deprived a chance to impress as the Dukes ball re-appears in the second half of the Shield season.
"We've got leave one out unfortunately, and they're all fit and ready to go and all want a piece of that Dukes ball so it's going to be a tough decision," Siddons said of his pace bowling battery.
"The wicket looks like it could take the game forward pretty quickly.
"It's got good (grass) cover, and with the Dukes ball that does swing naturally the wicket will help a little bit as well.
"We've got Worrall back in the side, so we've got a really good Shield team.
"(Alex) Carey's gone (to South Africa with the Australia men's limited-overs team) but we've got Harry Nielsen who's in great form and won the game for us in the last match (against Tasmania).
"So we're really excited about our prospects in this match."
With skipper Mitchell Marsh, fast bowler Jhye Richardson batter D'Arcy Short and allrounder Ashton Agar also required for the South Africa tour starting next week, WA will be captained by newly crowned men's domestic player of the year Shaun Marsh.
South Australia: Travis Head (c), Wes Agar, Will Bosisto, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Henry Hunt, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Chadd Sayers, Jake Weatherald, Daniel Worrall, Nick Winter.
Western Australia: Shaun Marsh (c), Cameron Bancroft, Jake Carder, Cameron Green, Liam Guthrie, Josh Inglis, Matt Kelly, Simon Mackin, David Moody, Joel Paris, Josh Philippe, Marcus Stoinis.