Siddle set to make Essex debut as champions start defence of County Championship title

Peter Siddle is set to make his Essex debut at Headingley. Picture: PA SPORT

Peter Siddle is set to make his Essex debut at Headingley. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Australian star Peter Siddle is due to make his Essex debut in their opening County Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley tomorrow.

The 33-year-old fast bowler has joined the defending champions for the first five matches of the season and will spearhead the pace attack until the return of New Zealander, Neil Wagner.

New Essex head coach Anthony McGrath is delighted to have the presence of the influential bowler in his squad and said: “We are really excited to have Peter Siddle with us for those early matches given all the quality that he brings. We are confident after what we achieved last year and I’m sure that he will add to what we are trying to deliver in 2018. ”

Meanwhile McGrath starts his tenure as Essex boss with a nostalgic return to his former stomping ground, Headingley.

McGrath won four Test caps and spent 17 years with the White Rose, but admits that there will be no room for sentiment when he walks back into the ground.

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“No there won’t be any, cricket is my profession and my job,” he said. “I’m in my third year now with Essex and feel an Essex boy. I’ve really enjoyed my time since I moved down here.”

Twelve months ago, Essex were the bookies’ – and many pundits’ – favourites to be relegated, but they shocked the critics by proving invincible in the red-ball game, collecting ten wins along the way.

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“Being defending champions comes with its own pressure because people now expect of us, but within our own dressing room, nothing has changed, it’s business as usual,” McGrath insisted.

“We look to control what we can control, look to improve as individuals, stay together as a team and stick to our game plans. I know that is a bit of a boring message but the teams that normally do the basics really well come out on top in four-day cricket.

“We beat Yorkshire twice last year and we’ll be looking to do the same this year. We want to start well, we know this game will be tough because Yorkshire are very good at Headingley.”

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