The Australian cricket summer took a series of unexpected twists and turns. From the series loss to South Africa, to the Aussies losing several pace bowlers to injury, it was a long and toiling summer.
Two players who stood the test of summer were Phil Hughes and Peter Siddle. The battler and the workhorse were prime indications of players who had worked hard to prepare themselves for the test (and in Hughes’ case, the one-day) series.
Phil’s 2012/2013 domestic form saw him become a new man in the red and black colours of South Australia. Hughes had burst onto the Australian international scene with flying colours, but an adversity to being able to fend off short balls at his body began to force him off the selector’s radar.
Playing cricket in England, and a rejuvenated technique might just be the saviour for Hughes. Many fans had called for his dismissal from the team after consistently shaping up awkwardly to short balls. His first class form – while good – wasn’t spectacular, and it lead to a confidence drop.
That has since changed. Hughes has been carving up runs at domestic level, which was enough to warrant test selection against Sri Lanka in the summer just gone. He didn’t disappoint, and immediately his new technique was obvious. The footwork was more fluent, his drive looked strong, and best of all, Hughes showed confidence. Lots of it.
Heading towards the summer Ashes in England, which begin on July 10, the biggest test now for Hughes is keeping his place in the team. His scores and summer are indicative of a new man. He has proved that he can still bat at international level. Add to the fact Hughes is only 24, and Australia may have its number 3 (or possibly opening) batting saviour.
Considered the spearhead of the current Australian attack, Siddle kept running in over the Australian summer to the point of near exhaustion. No one can question his work ethic. Siddle was the most effective bowler over the six tests, finding a consistent stump to stump line that fooled quite a few batsmen, especially those in the Sri Lankan touring team.
There is a fire about Siddle that isn’t seen in the rest of the Australian attack. His exploitation of swing and seam is second to none, and his career (spanning back to his junior career) has seen him break records.
While Siddle’s bowling is his primary “asset” he can also wield the willow quite well.
The key thing for Siddle is to watch his workload. The amount of overs he bowled this summer was staggering; in the searing Adelaide heat he was on the brink of exhaustion. However, “Sidds” has also proven to be a delight with the fans.
It’s the same with Hughes too. A new playing style has done wonders for his game; now though, with Australia still trying to find the right balance with players, Hughes and Siddle are both a vital part of the rebuild. They’ve got the talent, skill and mindset to become huge spiritual leaders within the side. And with the Ashes coming up, now more than ever, playing well is important.