‘Today was a nice reward’: Siddle impressive in return to baggy green
A seasoned veteran in a team bursting with new faces, Peter Siddle might have been the most excited person in Australia's dressing rooms as he prepared to mark his long-awaited Test recall.
The 33-year-old on Sunday ended a two-year Test exodus with a dogged performance in punishing conditions on day one of the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai.
With the temperature nudging 39C and the road-like pitch offering little assistance, Siddle reinforced his workhorse reputation and was rewarded with the key wicket of century-maker Mohammad Hafeez in the final session.
The hosts remained in control at 3-255 at stumps but Siddle's near-flawless final spell of 1-4 off five overs proved crucial in helping to keep Australia in the hunt.
The Victorian's return to Test cricket comes almost 10 years to the day since he departed for India for his first tour with Australia, and he relished seeing Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne make their debuts.
"To see these young boys getting presented their caps and the excitement they had in the lead-up, it's been exciting for me not just being around the group but seeing them up and about and getting another opportunity," Siddle said.
"I've always dreamed of playing for Australia again in the last few years, but I've concentrated on just performing wherever I played.
"Today was a nice reward for the time I've put in off the park and all the other teams I've played for in the last 18 months, to get back out there and pull on the baggy green, and walk out there with those three guys starting their journey."
A proven performer in English conditions, Siddle is certain to also be considered for next year's Ashes series should his body continue to hold up.
Former Test wicketkeeper and Australian fielding coach Brad Haddin said his ex- teammate had brought great energy to the group.
"I think the guys can take a lot from Sidds - the way he holds himself, the way he prepares for cricket games and especially Test match cricket," Haddin said.
"He's been out from the Test arena for a long time now and for someone who's played 60 Tests and got 200 wickets, it's great just to show the guys how much it means to him to be back."