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.