True Blue Siddle


 by Bob Utber

You can take the boy out of the bush but you can’t take the bush out of the boy.

So it is with Peter Siddle.

When he saw me on Day 1 that cheeky grin came over his face and he first words were “what the hell  are you doing here? That is the nature of Sids just a cheeky Gippy boy who wears his life on his face and in Australia’s case on his sleeve. 

He was delighted to see me as he always is. That is the nature of the beast.

I have been lucky to know Peter for quite a few years since he was amongst an elite group of young Victorian cricketers who under the guidance of former Hawthorn Champion Andy Collins was completing a course at Victoria University where I lectured and was their mentor.

The group included Aiden Blizzard, Rob Quiney and Aaron Finch who are continuing to play good cricket and some other 18 year olds who unfortunately did not go any further with their game

Our classes were fun we learnt stuff, but we probably learnt more about one another. Like Collins I am always on the front foot when it comes to education as well as sporting prowess.  It is a must for elite sports people.  Sport will not carry you through life if you don’t have an education.

Like the wide eyed country boy when we first met eight years ago success has not changed his attitude to life  Nor did iy change gis attitude to study.

The boys didn’t complete the course but they did learn how to read a cricket contract much to the chagrin of the powers that be in those days As I said they learnt stuff but that was not the most important thing in life.

Sids did not like study.  He was like a cat on a hot tin roof.  The only time he showed composure was when the two youmg women (Teya and Laura) from the admin centre came in to see me during class.  Like all of them in the moment such a polite young gentleman.

Such is the change in Australian cricket and the lack of security screening by the SL that I sat in the dugout with Peter and the other two Victorians James Pattinson and Michael Beer (always a V).

 This was during the end of the Aussies second innings and the batsmen were going hell for leather.

Sids ,a dyed in the wool Shinboner,  was shouting as if he was at a game back home.  His encouragement of fellow players was effervescent and his rapport with his comrades was just as commanding.

Calling himself the best drinks carrier in the world at the moment he says it with that grin on his face and the toothy smile.  Some how I think that is tongue in cheek as he would dearly love to be out there giving the Sri Lankans some curry (pardon the pun) as only he can.

Such is his humour and dry wit he confided in me that “ Patto (James Pattinson) has the best record of any fast bowler in the world in taking wickets in the nets”

Always a favourite of Ricky Ponting one ponders when he will break back in to the team under the new regime. As a fellow Gippslander and a proud Victorian I hope it is soon.

What you see is what you get with the Gippslander and you know where you stand.  A proud family boy.  He gives his all for Australia both on and off the field and also on his back.  You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

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