Tue, 13 Nov 2018
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Backing of Justin Langer gave Peter Siddle belief

ESPNCricInfo
12 Sep 2018, 00:42 GMT+10

9:41 AM ET

A simple text message from coach Justin Langer gave Peter Siddle the encouragement that he could force his way back into Australia's Test plans, having seemingly been overtaken by a group of younger, quicker pace bowlers.

Siddle is in the frame to play his first Test in almost two years after being recalled to the squad for the series against Pakistan in the UAE, with Australia needing pace-bowling replacements for the injured Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Siddle played the last of his 62 Tests against South Africa, at Perth, in 2016 after which he battled a recurrence of a back injury that kept him out for the remainder of that season. The 2017-18 Sheffield Shield campaign brought an underwhelming 24 wickets at 39.66, but he has just completed a productive stint with Essex where his 37 wickets at 16.40 have sealed his comeback.

He had tried to keep thoughts of the baggy green at the back of his mind, but admitted to a few nerves since returning from England amid talk that he would be included, before the national selector Trevor Hohns confirmed the good news in a phonecall.

"When you've been out of the side, the only reason he's calling is usually good news, so when his name came up it brought a little smile to my face," Siddle said.

"I didn't want to focus too much on the Australian side, just what I could control, so the chats [with Justin Langer] were more about how I was going. We've always been good mates. I helped him with the Aussie A side going over to India, just with some different bowling plans. He sent one message saying 'every game counts' and I think that was the best little message I had from him. I didn't need to ask anymore, I knew what he meant, but to hear it from him was good backing and here we are."

Siddle was cautious of not getting ahead of himself during his return from injury last season, having learnt the lesson of rushing things following the initial back injury in 2016. He pinpointed last year's Big Bash campaign with the winners Adelaide Strikers as the moment when things started to click again as fitness and enjoyment started to combine.

"I pushed it last time to come back for that Test and got injured straight after it, so next time around I took my time and got everything right," he said. "I focused better on what I needed to do, in the past I think I was just so focused on getting back in the Australian side that it took away from my performances on the field.

"After the first half of the year I went away, played in the Big Bash for the Strikers, and started enjoying cricket a little more. I had a good tournament and when I came back for Victoria my performances were a lot better so that gave me a lot of confidence. By body was right, I was playing some good cricket and continuous cricket which I hadn't done for a long while. Wickets always top things off and I think that's what the English summer has done."

Siddle's reward, however, is not what many fast bowlers would dream about: the potential of two Tests in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He was part of the team when Australia last visited in 2014 - "Younis Khan made a hell of a lot of runs," Siddle recalled - when Pakistan completed two thumping victories, Younis scored 468 in four innings and Misbah-ul-Haq hit what was, at the time, the joint-fastest Test hundred off 56 balls. Siddle returned 2 for 217 across the two matches.

"Patience was a big thing you can take out of it, especially from a fast bowler's point of view," he said. "You can be over-attacking sometimes and not generate wickets. It will be a different approach this time, we have some quality spinners who are bowling well. It will be hard work, but think we have enough information from previous trips."

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