Peter Siddle, Australia pacer, has admitted that the team is wary of the spin challenge at hand in the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan and keeping leggie Yasir Shah at bay would be their No. 1 target in order to achieve success.
“He’s (Yasir) going to play a big part,” Siddle said on Tuesday (September 25). “Spin bowling in this series is going to play a massive part. I think it’s going to be a tough contest. He bowled well against us last series over here. He took a lot of wickets, so I think it’s going to be number one plan to keep him out.”
Yasir played a massive role in Pakistan’s 2-0 win the last time Australia had toured UAE – in 2015 – picking up 12 wickets at an average of 17.25.
However, this time around, it is not just Yasir but also the threat of young leggie Shadab Khan that will have to be countered. Australia have been preparing extensively for the spin challenge. After a couple of camps in Brisbane and an A series in India, where several of their squad players were involved, they are in Dubai for pre-series training. S Sriram, their spin bowling coach, has roped in two Indian spinners – legspinner Pardeep Sahu and slow left-armer K Jiyas – to aid them in their preparation.
Siddle believes they have had an ideal preparation for the two-match series. “I think in the past we’ve come into series, worked hard on spin but not specifically on what they’re bowling, the deliveries they bowl and the cues to watch as a batter,” he said. “We’ve been lucky enough to get a couple of guys come in that are very good spin bowlers. I think the big focus is they’ve got two star legspinners, Yasir Shah who we’ve played before, a great player, and Shadab Khan, who’s been playing and we expect to line up.
“So we’ve got a contest against those two guys, and having good discussions about different deliveries, what to watch, I think it’s been good for us tailenders as well to hear from different batters, the way they go about it, the way they watch the ball. It’s nice to hear from them and it gives us something to work on when we get in the nets. I definitely think it’s helped me personally and the other guys have definitely learned a lot from it.”
Siddle, who is returning to the national setup after almost two years, believes his role won’t change a great deal. With a lot of cricket taking place at the venues in the ongoing Asia Cup, the pitches are expected to deteriorate much quicker than they did in 2012. As a result, spin is likely to dominate, and his role would largely be to keep things tight and put pressure on the batsmen.
“I think for me it’s going to be similar to what I do in Australia, it’s about holding up an end, building pressure and trying to put the batsmen under a lot of pressure to generate those wickets,” he explained. “I don’t think my plan changes a hell of a lot from different conditions. But probably more so here it’s about hitting the stumps, making them play a lot more and having the fielders in the right positions.”
Siddle, who has returned to the national setup after almost two years, was a part of the team that lost to Pakistan on their last tour. Even as the team lost, he is hopeful of putting that experience to good in the upcoming series.
“Emotions come out in games and different things happen throughout matches, which you react to. Hopefully just being around the group and just giving a bit of knowledge about conditions… I’ve played in the subcontinent a lot, I’ve played here once before, and it’s just about talking about those experiences. I got to play under some great guys on my first ever Test tour [in India in 2008], Haydos and Punter and Brett Lee, guys like that who’ve played a lot of cricket.
“I’ve taken a lot of knowledge from them and hopefully I can pass a bit of that to these guys and watch them go forward. I think these days the boys have played a lot in the subcontinent, even the younger guys, so they’ve been exposed to those conditions, which is exciting. They’re not coming in here in an unknown world not knowing anything, so the young guys are preparing very well in the nets at the moment.”
As Siddle returns to the side, he will be playing under his third national coach – after Mickey Arthur and Darren Lehmann. In Justin Langer, he is expecting a more focused approach to the game, one that came to define his batting.
“He’s very intense. I think people could understand the way he went about the game when he played, how switched on and how hard he worked. I think we probably get a good understanding that’s how he’s coaching regime’s going to be. It started off like that, which is enjoyable. He knows his plans, knows the way he wants the team to go and I think the boys are getting a good feel for that over these first couple of days.
“I’ve had a few coaches over my time in the role as a player, but it’s always fresh when a new coach, a new person comes in, their personality and they way they want to coach and lead the team. It always gives a good vibe around the group and with the younger guys here also it’s been enjoyable.”
The two-match series is set to begin October 7 in Dubai. Before that, Australia will be facing Pakistan A at the ICC Academy for a four-day practice game.