Siddle looking to lock horns with arch-foe de Villiers
Having dismissed AB de Villiers six times in 12 Tests, Peter Siddle discusses taking on the South African superstar again in the KFC BBL
Andrew Ramsey at the Adelaide Oval
13 January 2020, 12:50 PM AEST
Comparatively fresh from his career-best KFC BBL bowling return, Peter Siddle shifted his focus to the imminent resumption of his battle against long-time rival, South Africa superstar AB de Villiers.
Siddle's Adelaide Strikers broke their three-game losing streak with a 63-run victory over the winless defending champions Melbourne Renegades on Sunday, and immediately began preparing for their next encounter against the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Tuesday.
Brisbane have been bolstered by the arrival of their star signing de Villiers who replaces England opener Tom Banton, and by a quirk of scheduling, the Heat's next two matches are against the Strikers (at home, and then a return fixture at Adelaide Oval next Friday).
While Siddle is hoping that de Villiers' recent break from competitive cricket – his most recent outing was in South Africa's domestic T20 competition a month ago – will ensure he's a little "rusty", he's looking forward to once again locking horns with the man still regarded as one of the pre-eminent white-ball batters in the world.
Siddle and de Villiers first crossed paths in 2008, the year that Siddle made his Test debut for Australia, at the WACA Ground in Perth where the Proteas' star led his team to a famous win by scoring an unbeaten century as they chased down 414 in the fourth innings.
In each of the next two Tests of that three-match series, Siddle rattled de Villiers' stumps, and the Australia seamer ended up claiming his rival's wicket six times in their dozen Test encounters across more than five years.
Only veteran England quick Stuart Broad has proven more successful against de Villiers in Test cricket, having dismissed him 10 times.
And although Siddle has not faced his foe in white-ball cricket, he is looking forward to resuming their battle when – as expected – de Villiers suits up in Heat colours this week.
"We'll just have to see on the day," Siddle said on Sunday evening, when asked if he formulated any bowling plans for the South Africa champion.
"We know what he can do, he can hit the ball everywhere.
"It's like bowling to Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) isn't it?
"It's going to be tough, but hopefully he's a little bit rusty and it works in our favour."
While Siddle remains hopeful that 35-year-old de Villiers might take a few games to find his feet in Australia conditions, by which time the Heat's preliminary games against the Strikers will be passed, he is also expecting him to live up to his drawcard status.
And the knowledge that he's pitting himself against one of the world's best will help further steel his own performance, after his crucial three wickets and athletic running catch in the Strikers win over the Renegades that lifted them to third on the BBL|09 ladder.
"We've always had a good battle," Siddle recalled of his encounters with de Villiers who retired from international competition in 2018.
"I've enjoyed the times bowling against the best players in the world, and he's definitely – in T20 cricket – one of the best in the world.
"So not just to play against him, but to have him in Australia, have him in the Big Bash, it's amazing for Australian people to witness what he's going to bring over the next couple of weeks.
"Hopefully it's not against us, but that he does bring out the best in a couple of other games because he's amazing to watch."
Siddle also expressed his admiration for Strikers teammate Rashid Khan, who claimed another two wickets in the team's clinical over the ailing, reigning champions.
The first of those scalps, which lifted the Afghanistan leg spinner to the 50-wicket milestone with the Strikers, came as a result of Siddle's running effort where he sprinted from short third-man to point where he took a tumbling catch at full stretch.
"When I initially took off, I didn’t think I was going to get there, but as I got going I got a little bit closer," Siddle said at game's end.
"In the end, I was able to take it and it's always nice to hold on to them.
"Rash (Khan), the way he bowled in the middle overs again, what a star he is.
"To be able to restrict runs, but also to take wickets it makes the job a helluva lot easier for everyone else."
In addition to Siddle's 3-14 (which eclipsed the 3-17 he claimed in the Strikers BBL|07 grand final against the Hobart Hurricanes) and Rashid's 2-19, skipper Travis Head chipped in with 2-26 in his first game back from Australia Test duties.
Head employed himself as opening bowler as the Renegades set off in pursuit of 174 to register their first win of a forgettable campaign, and claimed the prized wicket of former Test teammate Marcus Harris with his fifth delivery.
Head's bowling, plus the 22 he scored from 20 balls batting at number three, helped to mitigate the absence of the team's leading runs scorer of the season to date – keeper Alex Carey, who is currently with the men's ODI team in India.
"Over the years, we've seen him come in and bowl one or two overs and take the odd wicket," Siddle said of his skipper.
"But today, to bowl his allotment and bowl the way he did, it shows what he can bring to the team.
"Not just his captaincy and what he can do with the bat, but what he can do with the ball and in the field, I think his leadership is always great.
"It's amazing to have him back, and you lose Carey behind the stumps but to have young Harry Nielsen come in there .
"Keeping to Rash is never an easy job, and I think he did a superb job behind there."