Nail-biter ends in draw
Led by Faf Du Plessis, South Africa survives a dramatic final day of the second Test in Adelaide on Monday.PT0M0S 620 349
AUSTRALIA have brought in fresh legs for the Perth Test, a nod to the fact Peter Siddle's could barely carry him back to his bowling mark by the end in Adelaide.
When the match was drawn, Siddle's legs buckled under him, in disappointment and exhaustion.
James Pattinson's injury meant the Australians were one fast man down as they pushed fruitlessly for victory, leaving Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus to bowl 63.5 and 53.3 overs respectively for the match. Siddle's 4-65 from 33 overs in the second innings was heroic but for every over South Africa's defiant batsmen staved off defeat, they ensured Australian bowlers would be a little more cooked for the series decider.
"He deserves a lot of credit and I'm confident he will be OK leading into Perth" ... captain Michael Clarke on Peter Siddle. Photo: Getty Images
Captain Michael Clarke acknowledged Siddle was in some doubt, hence the inclusion of Mitchell Starc, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Johnson in the squad for Perth.
''He's bowled his heart out but he's got three days to recover and get himself right. He will give himself every opportunity to take the field,'' Clarke said.
''It's what's expected when you play for Australia,'' he said of Siddle's efforts. ''If you want to be the best, you've got to dig deep, you've got to find a way. I pay a lot of credit to 'Sidds', he showed a lot of heart. That's what we have come to expect of Sidds. He has been a wonderful performer for Australia, and that's what I expect from all the bowlers. Sometimes it's tough out there and you've got a find a way to help your team have success.''
Siddle, running on fumes rather than breathing fire as he usually does, bowled his team to within two wickets of victory while his body screamed at him to stop. Between overs he stole some shade at deep square leg, leaned on his knees and willed himself to go again.
After a wicketless first session, Siddle found the energy to jag a ball between A.B. de Villiers's bat and pad, ending a vigil that lasted an interminable 220 balls (for 33 runs).
Late in the final session, he was reduced to walking back to his mark but still produced two balls of 138km/h to unsettle Rory Kleinveldt. The next ball was a bouncer, around the tailender's throat, the next an inswinging yorker that knocked over his stumps, and kept alive Australia's hopes of a win.
It didn't happen, and when Morne Morkel padded the last ball of the day to the off side to confirm a draw, Siddle sank to his knees and put his head in his hands. He had to be helped from the field.
''I think it's more fatigue than anything else,'' Clarke said. ''What an effort today. He ran in from both ends in tough conditions. There wasn't much there with the ball or the wicket but he had a red-hot crack. He deserves a lot of credit, and I'm confident he will be OK leading into Perth.''
After Siddle reinvented himself as an aggressive and resourceful leader of the attack last summer, national selector John Inverarity described him as ''lionhearted''.
But his effort on the final day in Adelaide surpassed anything that he did against India last summer.