"I'm not angry about what went on ... It was a group decision" ... Peter Siddle. Photo: Getty Images
PETER SIDDLE has bristled at criticism from Dennis Lillee and described the decision to withdraw him from the deciding Perth Test as ''the right thing to do''.
Siddle said he played a part in the agonising call to rest from the series decider against South Africa after his workload in Adelaide left him with a tight hamstring.
Setting aside his personal disappointment at missing the play-off for the No.1 ranking, and Ricky Ponting's farewell, the Victorian fast bowler said his risk of breaking down during the match, as James Pattinson did in Adelaide, was too great.
"In the long run, it's going to pay off for the team and lead to a lot more wins" ... Peter Siddle. Photo: Getty Images
''We didn't need a repeat of that in such an important game. Common sense came through in the end. It was just the right thing to do. Obviously I wanted to be out there playing … but after going through what I did in Adelaide, knowing that if I had been the one that got injured … it would have put us out of the game a long way. I think we made the right decision. We didn't win and that's sad, but personally there's still a lot of games for Australia to be won,'' Siddle said.
''It's a combined decision. I give them my honest feedback and I had a good chat with 'Pup' … so I'm not angry about what went on … It was a group decision and in the long run, it's going to pay off for the team and lead to a lot more wins.
''To miss that one match, even with how big it was and being such good mates with Ricky I wanted to be out there with him and be a part of his last game, that was disappointing. But if anything bad happened instead of missing that one match it could end up being seven matches, including [the post-season tour of] India. A lot of thought went into it but in the end I think it was the right choice personally.''
Siddle has since resumed bowling in the nets and declared himself a certain starter for the next Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
Criticism of Australia's rest and rotation policy has been led by Lillee, who bowled a phenomenal 535 deliveries in a Test against Pakistan in Adelaide in 1976, and backed up to take 10 wickets in the next match after a two-day break. Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus had three days to recover from bowling 383 and 321 balls respectively in the drawn match at Adelaide Oval.
Lillee said his captain, Ian Chappell, would have had to duck for cover if he had told him to rest from a Test.
''If it had been any other game and they'd come up to me and said I had to be rested but I was feeling fresh, it would be a different story. But Lillee trying to say that for my case, my case was that there'd only been two blokes in the last 20 years who had bowled more overs in a Test match - that goes to show it's not something that happens commonly - and the short turnaround, which is what is expected of us now, puts the pressure on us,'' Siddle responded.
''We play our matches a little bit closer together and the amount some blokes are bowling is exceptional in some of the games. I'm not saying they didn't bowl big overs but there definitely would have been times they had a lot lighter workloads.''
In the grim aftermath of Australia's loss of 309 runs to South Africa, Cricket Australia team performance boss Pat Howard defended the decision to go into the series decider with a new pace attack.
He said England, South Africa and Australia had all made the subtle shift to a ''fit to perform'' philosophy with fast bowlers.
"Each of those countries has identified a group of fast bowlers and picks them for Test matches when they're fit to perform.
"We understand there are a lot of views on this topic but one of the reasons the top teams are managing their resources like this is that modern cricket has added a new format … The top teams are simply adjusting to the reality of the modern schedule.''
An earlier version of the story suggested Lillee's break between matches was two weeks rather than two days. The error was made by the reporter.