Peter Siddle is backing Mitchell Johnson to banish his memories of 2009 and enjoy a summer to remember as Australia attempt to win their first series on English soil since 2001. Johnson took 37 wickets at a cost of just under 14 as Australia romped to a 5-0 series Ashes win Down Under in 2013-14 – routinely running through an England top order which had no answer to his pace or movement.
Those figures contrast sharply with the 20 wickets he took in England in 2009 as he struggled to locate his line and length in alien conditions with the unfamiliar Dukes ball. He was even left out of Australia’s touring party four years later as his country fell to a third successive away Ashes defeat.
That, though, is a distant memory and as Johnson and England prepare to renew acquaintances, Siddle is confident that the Aussie left-arm seamer will waste little time in bringing back some painful memories.
“Obviously in Australia he would have fast wickets and a bit of bounce but if there’s a bit more swing here, I wouldn’t like to face Mitchell Johnson at 150[kph] in-swinging it,” said Siddle.
“I faced him the other day and it was swinging around beautifully. It’s always exciting to know that he’s in a good place, the ball is coming out well and you’ve got Mitchell Starc bowling just as quick as him doing the same thing. They’re good little weapons to have at your disposable.”
Starc, like Johnson, has enjoyed mixed fortunes in unfamiliar English conditions. He took 11 wickets in three Tests in 2013 and generally struggled to impose himself on the England batting line-up.
After taking 22 wickets in Australia’s successful World Cup campaign – a tally which earned him the player-of-the-tournament award – Starc returns to England two years on as one of the most exciting young talents in world cricket.
Coupled with the presence of Ryan Harris and the emerging Josh Hazlewood, Siddle knows that he faces a fight to break into the tourists’ pace attack but he argues that after Australia’s struggles on recent Ashes tours, the current crop are the strongest he has played with.
“I think it has to be,” he says. “You just look, I didn’t play in the West Indies [a series Australia won comfortably earlier this month] and Ryano [Harris] wasn’t there, and how well the boys did. That just shows that we’ve got plenty of options and I think everyone’s different, that’s what makes it even better. No matter who they go for, it’s always going to give them something different, it’s not going to be the same stuff.
“It’s going to be hard work for us all to get that spot – out of the five you can only fit in three. It’s going to be hard but I think all the boys are up for the challenge.”
England are clearly on a high after a pulsating Ashes warm-up against New Zealand and will feel that the momentum is with them as the first Test in Cardiff approaches. Siddle, however, warns that Australia will be a totally different proposition to the Kiwis. “There’s not too much to read into that [the Test and one-day series against New Zealand],” he says.
“We’ve played a lot here, we’ve played against England a lot so we’ve got experience against those guys in these conditions.
“It’s going to be a different contest and an Ashes series brings the best out of everyone. They’ll come out fighting hard and will be wanting to turn things around from Australia, so we’ll be ready for it and we’re up for the challenge.”Reuse content