Siddle reveals Strikers' sweet strategy to catch out Khawaja
There's one ploy the Strikers might be forced to tweak when they take on the Thunder for the second time in as many days on Monday
Andrew Ramsey at Adelaide Oval
24 January 2021, 09:05 PM AEST
Peter Siddle joked the benefit of playing the same KFC BBL rival on consecutive days – as his Adelaide Strikers will do tomorrow when they again lock horns with Sydney Thunder – is the brevity of pre-game team planning, because the strategies remain unchanged.
But there's one ploy the Strikers might be forced to tweak after it was revealed to be prescient in its success and brought the prized wicket of Usman Khawaja at a crucial stage of today's vital match.
The Strikers had posted what seemed to be a sub-par total of 5-159 and Thunder were cruising towards a win that would have all-but ensured their place in the finals race when Siddle and fellow fast bowler Michael Neser sprung their trap.
The pair had mused pre-match about Khawaja's propensity to walk across his stumps towards the off-side and look to flick full deliveries over the infield behind square leg in the early overs of an innings, when the field is largely inside the restrictive circle.
Essentially, the plan was for the fielder inside the circle at short fine leg to sprint away from the batter when Khawaja shapes to play the shot in the hope it will yield a catch if the ball happens to land in the hands of the man on the run.
The plan was executed in Neser's first over of the innings, but Khawaja made sufficient contact to lift over Siddle's head at short fine leg, and the former Test batter pocketed a boundary in the process.
Neser then filled the position when Siddle bowled the final over of the initial Power Play with the field up, but didn’t get a chance to bowl at Khawaja and it seemed the moment had passed – for today's game, at least.
But as the Thunder went helter-skelter for the Bash Boost point in the 10th over, which Neser bowled and from which the Sydney team needed 12 runs, they decided it was worth another crack.
Having removed Ferguson with the second ball of the over, thereby allowing the batters to cross, Neser bowled full at the stumps and Khawaja obliged by scuttling across the crease and lapping the ball around the corner.
From his position on the edge of the fielding circle, Siddle saw the initial movement and bolted to his left where he was able to clutch the chance as it floated over his left shoulder.
He launched into an immediate celebration crowned by a beaming smile, before pointing towards his partner in plotting and grabbing Neser in a big embrace.
Peter Siddle REALLY enjoyed taking that one! https://t.co/z6evhjg7YD #BBL10 pic.twitter.com/4Xggv984r4— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 24, 2021
"Ness and I had spoken a bit about it before the game," Siddle said in the wake of the Strikers' six-run win that lifted them (temporarily) to third place on the BBL ladder with their last regular season game also against Thunder at Adelaide Oval tomorrow night.
"We know Uz likes to play that especially early on in the Power Play with only the two (fielders) out.
"He (Neser) was fielding at 45 (degrees on the leg-side) for me to Uz, and I was doing it to him so we could get ready and take off and be prepared for it.
"It's nice when things like that come off.
"I could have run there a million times and it doesn't come, but when it comes off it makes it a bit more exciting and people probably think why are they getting so excited, it's only a standard catch.
"But when you plan for things like that and it happens, it's always good fun."
Khawaja didn't share that sense of enjoyment, as the loss of his and Ferguson's wickets from consecutive balls triggered a collapse in which the Thunder lost 5-23 in 26 balls which ultimately cost them the match.
As the replay of the dismissal was shown on Adelaide Oval's giant video screen, Khawaja lingered in the shadows of the Chappell Stand and seemed concerned that Siddle might have been outside the fielding circle when the ball was delivered, constituting a no-ball.
But Siddle insisted that, rather like football's off-side trap, the plan was carefully calibrated to ensure it was legitimate, even if he's been scrutinised by umpires in previous attempts to put it into practice.
"Nah, I'm cagey," Siddle said when asked if there was any doubt as to the legality of his positioning and the strategy.
"I know what I'm doing.
"It's always a bit tight.
"I've been warned a few times for being a little bit too close to being out (of the circle), so I made sure I was in.
"Especially when you're trying to do something like that."
Having flagged their plan to Khawaja, and with tomorrow's return bout against the Thunder to decide where the teams finish the regular season and what their finals campaign will look like should they qualify for the play-offs, it remains to be seen if they'll employ it again.
Siddle concedes it's the first time in his long and celebrated career he's been involved in back-to-back games against the same opponent on consecutive days.
But he added with so much on the line for the respective teams heading into their final game of the regular season, there will be no shortage of motivation despite the familiarity afforded by the atypical scheduling.
"Not the very next day," Siddle said when asked if he had previously had to front up to the same foe on successive days.
"We got a little taste of it early in the season when we played the (Perth) Scorchers and then the (Melbourne) Renegades back-to-back, but not in consecutive days.
"At least you know your planning and your tactics, so from a preparation point of view it's not too bad – you don't have to worry about anything, you rock up against the same side.
"And when it's must-win games it's a bit easier to get up and about and get going.
"If we lose to them, they go ahead of us so it's pretty crucial to try and get the win tomorrow night.
"We're in a pretty good place at the moment, the way we're going and I like where we're at."