Why Peter Siddle doesn’t need the unplayable delivery

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< 1 minute read

Pre-Ashes analysis tends to treat the players as if they’re machines. If it swings, Jimmy Anderson will be great; if it doesn’t, he’s screwed. Alastair Cook has a technical weakness. He’ll score no runs.

But cricket doesn’t work like that. For one thing, pretty much everybody’s shitting themself of the first morning of the first Ashes Test and decision-making and technique are all over the place.

Cricketers are rarely at their best or their worst. They’re almost always somewhere in between and different players have different extremes.

For example, if we say that a player’s effectiveness can be rated from 0-100, Jimmy Anderson and Mitchell Johnson might operate within a range that is 40-100. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath probably delivered 80-100. Ajit Agarkar gives you about 40-60.

Peter Siddle pretty much gives you 80, every day, every ball. Maybe on a bad day, he might slip down to about 78 and on a hat trick day, he might get up around 81, but he’s not someone who’s going to bowl unplayable 94mph swinging, seaming deliveries.

Nor will he bowl any shod.

The thing is, Peter Siddle is also up against players who have their own performance range. Ian Bell played amazingly well on day one of the first Test and we wouldn’t have put much money on Siddle getting him out, but that’s not what Siddle’s there for.

If a batsman slips below a performance level of 80 at any point in his innings, Peter Siddle WILL GET HIM OUT.

You don’t have to be superhuman to succeed in Test cricket, you just have to be better than your opponent at any given moment. Peter Siddle is better than most batsmen for at least some of the time. That’s all you need.


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  1. You have just de-constructed cricket, my lifetime passion, into a mere outdoor version of top trumps.

    Top trumps with hardly any variables, in fact – not even a decent set of top trumps – cricket is merely gash top trumps.

    Curse you, KC, you’ve ruined my life.

  2. “You don’t have to be superhuman to succeed in Test cricket, you just have to be better than your opponent at any given moment”

    Well this explains why I am so shit at cricket. I have never been better than anybody at any given moment.

    Even when I am batting with a spatula I have a terrible habit of edging to second slip. Last night even the face licking cat tempted me into an ill advised drive.

  3. “You don’t have to be superhuman to succeed in Test cricket, you just have to be better than your opponent at any given moment”

    Well, that got rid of Bradman, Warne, Sobers, Tendulkar, Lillee, Murali, Imran Khan, the whole 80’s Windies team…

    How like an Englishman to have such a mediocre perspective. That must be why there are no great Enlish cricketers – you never bother to try to be more than just a bit better than the opposition.

    Glad my grannie got out of there when she could.

  4. The point is that Peter Siddle is not a spectacular bowler. He doesn’t do anything remarkable with the ball, yet he’s been amazingly successful in this match. How?

    Obviously, it is better to be superhuman or near-superhuman and all cricketers should aspire to that, but cricketers are human – your opponents included.

    We also say that we wouldn’t have put money on Siddle dismissing Bell, so this isn’t a paean to reliable mediocrity; it’s a pragmatic acknowledgement that sometimes you only need to be so good.

    The logical extension of this is that being better than an opponent at every moment is what makes a cricketer exceptional. Quite why this is ‘a mediocre perspective’ is beyond us.

    As for why it’s typically English, maybe it’s the logic that gives it that air.

  5. I think it’s pretty superhuman to be able to perform at 80% so consistently and consistency is something that should never be underrated (except my consistent edge to the slips obviously). Besides teams need a blend of erratic brilliance and solid performance to be successful.

    I’ve always thought that one of the joys of team sport is that unattractive grit sometimes beats sublime skill. I hate the idea that there is only a place for giftedness and no place for making the very best of what you have.

    Of course that’s because I have what people would classify as “severely limited” ability.

  6. I would say I normally operate around an 8. On a very good day I hit 15. When I was working for other people who weren’t me I was normally a 3. If my boss was in the same room I could push it to a 5 if I had to.
    I forgot, I got the train the other day when I could have driven. That was a 20 day.

  7. I’m not sure which of the ongoing threads are going to be the “overnight session” tonight, but can I just send in my apologies for absence?
    The ruddy hotel I’m in tonight does have wifi access… but only at the front of the building.
    So unless I pull the duvet out into the corridor and camp outside room 114 for the night, I’m just going to have to catch up with you all tomorrow evening.
    @ Tight – hope you’ve got the apple vodka on tap tonight and have a spare cat just in case…

  8. JF – Where’s the commitment? You can already make some terrible pun about surviving in the corridor of uncertainty. With a duvet…

    As for me the cat is ready and willing, the vodka has been chilling in the freezer and I already have a shirt ironed. Apart from the fact we haven’t really looked like taking a wicket all is right with the world

  9. i keep reading Bell played better than good. He is a front line batsman. He got a chance to play on day 1. 70 odd should be par for the course. no? Or is the expectation from Bell just to do good enough to keep Morgan on the bench.

  10. Ian Bell top scores for England – and he’s the one keeping Morgan out of the side?? This is more of that male logic thing isn’t it – gawd bless you, you really shouldn’t worry your pretty litle heads about such things

    Btw KC, can I just check. It is a given that batsman have a finite amount of runs they can score in a series, but does the same apply to bowlers? and in that case has Siddle used up most of his quota early doors so to speak

  11. We’re not 100 per cent on this, but the same rules don’t seem to apply to bowlers.

    Bowlers are rarely ‘due’ a stack of wickets.

  12. Excellent point, Jo Fitz. Here we all are bursting with words of wit and wisdom on the overnight play, and all we can do is tack them on the end of some pointless discussion about why Australia produces more mediocre sportsmen than other countries.

    If it’s organised properly it will be a record of the outrageous fortunes of the series as it happened. If England wins, you could then gather it all together and publish it – that’s all that Gideon Haigh chap does.

  13. My eyes feel like they have been removed, rolled in sand and then re-inserted using a spoon.

    I may have to rethink my watching the first session plan as not only do I have to mainline caffeine to stay awake the next day but I don’t get to see many wickets either! Perhaps the professional plan is to go to bed very early and then get up to watch the last session?? These life decisions are in no way simple…

    Last night’s first session was quite excruciating at times but luckily I got to enjoy the cat getting off his face on catnip. In many ways he reminded me of Andre Nell, but without the irritating accent.

  14. I think we all deserve to see a photo of this cat, Tight_But_Loose.

    Especially if the cat looks indifferent towards the cricket in said photo.

  15. It’s hugely difficult to know if the cat is indifferent towards cricket because bar licking the water out of the bath and shovelling cat crack up his nose he is indifferent to everything.

  16. It would be an interesting experiment to see whether one is more tired after an overnight session in which england have done badly or one in which they have done well.

    Last night I was very tense while watson and katich were middling everything, and I’m feeling the effects today.

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