Sport Cricket Peter Siddle: What it’s really like to play in a Boxing Day Test

Peter Siddle: What it’s really like to play in a Boxing Day Test

Peter Siddle
Siddle celebrates dismissing Alastair Cook in the 2013 Boxing Day Test. Photo: Getty
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I have been lucky enough to play in seven Boxing Day Test matches, and if you ask me, there is no bigger occasion in the game.

Being a Victorian, I have fond memories of attending the Test with my Dad and my brother when I was growing up.

Like most cricketers in Australia, I dreamed of one day playing in the match, and to do it as a bowler was even more special.

The crowd roared when I ran in to bowl, and it gives me tingles now just thinking about it.

It always spurred me on and I have a heap of great MCG memories, including playing my first Test at the ground, in 2008, getting Sachin Tendulkar out twice in 2011 and taking six wickets in an Ashes Test in 2010 – even if the result was disappointing.

For all the boys involved in this year’s Boxing Day Test, it is sure to be something special.

It sounds like a record crowd will be in attendance, even though the series is done, and I think the fans at the MCG will be in for a treat.

The Aussie guys are excited and, with the series won, can now play with more freedom and take the game on.

I have spoken to most of the boys after we won the Ashes back in Perth and, unsurprisingly, they are up and about.

It’s an amazing feeling to win and do it so early in the series.

But they are all focused on the two big Tests to come and, speaking from experience, the thought of winning the Ashes 5-0 does get you dreaming.

Siddle Tendulkar
Siddle bowled Sachin Tendulkar in the last over of day two in the 2011 Boxing Day Test. Photo: AAP

I think that prospect has toned down some of the celebrations as a result.

England’s players can definitely be intimidated by a big crowd and by the size of the MCG.

For the guys who haven’t been there, or played there, the first thing they will do when they walk out for a training session is realise just how big the stadium is.

And it looks a hell of a lot bigger when it’s full of Australian fans.

It’s going to be harder for Australia to win without Mitchell Starc.

He is a massive loss given he offers that new-ball threat and is so aggressive with his pace.

It’s going to make it harder to get the 20 wickets necessary, but Pat Cummins now has the chance to be the out-and-out quick and lead the attack.

I was a bit disappointed in Michael Atherton’s comments, after he said the umpires could do more to protect England’s tail from bouncers.

It’s a defensive comment from Michael because his team is the one copping it. They would be doing the same thing if they had the bowlers quick enough.

Fast bowlers bowl aggressively at the tail regularly.

I know, because I’ve copped it a lot – particularly against South Africa.

We’ve had some good battles – our tail against their quicks and vice versa.

It’s just another way of getting wickets and it has worked very well in this series, just like it did when we beat England 5-0 out here four years ago.

Jimmy Anderson
Jimmy Anderson was hit by a short ball in Perth. Photo: Getty

As for the Melbourne Test, the wicket will be quite similar to what we have seen in the Sheffield Shield – dead and dull and hard work for the bowlers.

They’ll be using a different wicket, more in the middle of the ground, and that tends to be a bit quicker, but the ground staff will be a bit worried about the wicket being too flat.

Australia will need that extra bowler, and the quicks will need to bowl stump to stump. Expect Nathan Lyon to bowl a lot of overs in conditions that are good for batting.

I think this Test will go all the way and take five days.

Some of England’s batsmen will probably fire, but I’m still confident that we’ll be 4-0 up going to Sydney.

Peter Siddle has played 62 Test matches for Australia and taken 211 wickets.

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