England v West Indies Tests - Men's
Broad or Anderson facing the Ashes axe: Siddle
Former Australia quick praises star pace duo, but believes England will be better served with just one of them in their XI for the 2021-22 Ashes
29 July 2020, 11:05 AM AEST
Six-time Ashes veteran Peter Siddle believes England will need to drop either Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad to give themselves the best chance of reclaiming the urn on Australian soil next summer.
As Siddle's former county teammate Broad joined Anderson in the exclusive club of fast bowlers to have taken more than 500 Test wickets, the Australian says England are building a bowling attack that could potentially end their decade-long Test drought down under.
With speedsters Jofra Archer and Mark Wood in their ranks, Siddle believes England have two bowlers with the pace and bounce required to succeed in Australia.
And he says that could leave one of Anderson or Broad, the country's most prolific Test bowlers, out in the cold.
"I think it's going to be hard for them to both play in the same side in Australia," Siddle, who retired from international cricket last year, told cricket.com.au.
"Depending on conditions, I think Broady's probably got the upper hand – not because of age, that's got nothing to do with it – but with his skillset, seaming the ball off the deck rather than swinging it through the air.
"There doesn’t tend to be a lot of swing in the air in Australia and I think Jimmy has struggled with that over the years when he's toured here. He has had success at different times, but it tended to be because the overhead conditions suited him, and he was able to get the ball swinging.
"But if there’s not as much swing, it'll be harder to play them both.
"That's where the tough call comes; who do you choose out of two guys who have over 500 wickets each and have bowled a lot together and had a lot of success? That's where the big question is going to come."
Since famously retaining the urn in Australia in the summer of 2010-11 with Anderson leading the charge, England have lost nine of 10 Tests in Australia, losing 5-0 in 2013-14 and 4-0 four years later.
Anderson and Broad both averaged 35 with the ball in those two campaigns and England have looked to supplement their skills with a handful of taller, pacier quicks who – on paper – seemed better equipped for success in Australian conditions.
Siddle believes where the likes of Steve Finn, Boyd Rankin and Jake Ball have failed on previous tours, Archer and Wood can thrive.
"In the past they've tried doing it, but the guys that they've brought out with that top speed haven't been able to control the ball as much, so the run rate has leaked," Siddle says.
"You look at Steve Finn, for example, he came out but was quite expensive in a series here a long time ago. They've tried it at times, but it just hasn't quite come off.
"But this time, Archer's played enough Test matches now, Wood's played enough and I think he's shown in the previous series over in South Africa, he took a bag of wickets, bowled fast and was consistent.
"They've got a good consistent line-up, they bowl in partnerships and build a lot of pressure. We know in any Test team that's had success, the strength has been the bowlers bowling together, building partnerships and being economical.
"I think they're definitely building a line-up that could potentially do that here in Australia."
England have not shied away from having one eye on the 2021-22 Ashes campaign, with skipper Joe Root saying the decision to omit both Anderson and Broad from their side during the recent series against the West Indies has been partly with an eye to giving other quicks an opportunity.
Broad was controversially overlooked for the first Test earlier this month in favour of both Archer and Wood, a move that backfired when the tourists stormed to an upset win in Southampton.
The veteran responded with 16 wickets in the next two Tests, both of which England won.
Siddle reached out to his former Nottinghamshire teammate after he was axed, and the Victorian says Broad's triumphant return underlined why both he and Anderson must be picked for all Tests in English conditions.
"Obviously they're looking to the future when Jimmy and Broady aren't there," he said.
"But with the way they're bowling at the moment, if they're still the best, they're still the best and you've got to pick them.
"(The first Test) was the thinking (Australia) have had for years when we'd gone to tour over there, and we picked too much fast bowling and not enough skill and it came back to bite us.
"And I think this has probably shown that, the results when they changed their bowling attack back to what was more suited to English conditions.
"I was messaging (Broad) the other day when he wasn't playing, and he was 15 short (of 500 wickets) then. And he was thinking 'what's going to happen, when's it going to happen, is it even going to happen at all?'.
"And here we are two Tests later. It shows his class. He's bowling probably as well as he has for a long time."