Friendly foe helps Siddle cook up Ashes strategy
Australian paceman gleans insight on England's strategy thanks to Essex teammate Sir Alastair Cook
Sam Ferris in Birmingham
28 July 2019, 05:00 PM AEST
Seam bowler Peter Siddle has gleaned valuable insight on England's prolific new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad from an unlikely source – Ashes-winning captain Sir Alastair Cook.
Siddle and Cook have formed a tight friendship over the past two seasons as teammates at English county side Essex, where the Australian has been a sponge soaking up the wealth of knowledge his long-time Ashes rival has been happy to share.
"He is a great bloke, as much as probably a lot of Australians disagree, but once you get to know him he's a good man and has been a big help," Siddle told cricket.com.au.
"Especially this season, mentally and even just to chat to about little things out in the middle.
"He's captained James Anderson and Stuart Broad for a long time so he knows little tricks about the way they went about things and maybe things he said to them that he can now say to me to help me out in the middle. He's been a great help."
Siddle is part of Australia's 17-man Ashes squad in what will be his sixth Test series against England, and he more than anybody in the touring party has witnessed first-hand the full wrath of Anderson and Broad over the past decade.
Both England veterans have made it a habit of producing match-winning spells in Ashes contests on home soil, none more so than Broad's 8-15 at Trent Bridge four years ago as Australia were bowled out for 60 inside the first session.
Anderson and Broad, England's all-time leading Test wicket-takers with 575 and 444 wickets respectively, are two major reasons why Australia have not won an Ashes series in the UK since 2001.
But with that key information from Cook, Siddle will be hoping he can make an impact and help his side break the 18-year drought.
Fortunately for the Victorian, he will not have to bowl to Cook, England's greatest run-scorer in Tests, who announced his international retirement last year.
Siddle has been on the receiving end of a Cook marathon innings more than once, such as the entire 2010-11 series in Australia where the left-hander plundered 766 runs in close to 36 hours at the crease.
It goes without saying that Siddle is glad those days are long gone.
"It has been a bit weird," said Siddle when asked about the dynamic of his friendship with Cook.
"Last season when I had the opportunity to play alongside him, for me it was exciting because I'd had so many good battles against him and been frustrated at how good he was.
"To now being able to say that he's my teammate, play alongside him and know you've got that guy that walks out at the top of the order, opening the batting, whether it's a flat wicket or a wicket that's going to do a lot, knowing the confidence of how good he is, you can sit back and relax and watch him go about his business.
"I can tell you for sure it's a lot more enjoyable when he's your teammate than when he's at the other end of the wicket when you're playing an Ashes series.
"In Australia in 2010, that wasn't as exciting then."
Given Cook's superb form for league-leaders Essex in Division One of the County Championship, where he's averaging 46.73, Siddle says the 34-year-old still has what it takes to perform at the highest level.
Cook ruled out an international comeback in April, declaring "I've played my last game for England".
Siddle knows Cook won’t be an Ashes adversary this series, but the pair have imagined what a mid-pitch contest might look now they are close friends.
"He definitely is still good enough to do it (play Test cricket)," Siddle said. "Thankfully he doesn't want to do it.
"We did speak about it the other week; it would be quite enjoyable having played 10 games together this year if we had to go out and play against each other in the Ashes this series.
"We wondered how much different it may be now that we are so close.
"Lucky for me and lucky for us as a team that we won't have to worry about that and we can just worry about the new guys that are there."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval