Essex looking to make Siddle first of two T20 signings

Essex’s signing of Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle for this summer’s 2012 Twenty20 Cup campaign, subject to clearance from Cricket Australia, is likely to be the first of two new overseas player acquisitions for the competition.

The county engaged Scott Styris and Tim Southee for the competition last year but Styris has joined Sussex this time around while Southee has commitments with New Zealand.

Essex cricket committee chairman Graham Saville explained the Siddle signing. “We felt that we needed a gung-ho fast bowler in Twenty20 cricket,” he said. “We were looking to strengthen our attack and Siddle was available so we made our move for him. Providing we get the NOC from Australia, he’ll be joining us in time for our first match.”

Saville does not rule out a second signing for the Friends Life t20 competition. “It’s all a question of finance,” he added. “We would certainly like to bring in another player, possibly a batsman, and if the budget allows we’ll look at the options.”

Although Essex supporters will be delighted with the news of Siddle’s signing, there will also be just a hint of caution. Last year, the county thought that he would be leading their attack during the first two months of the season after a deal was agreed but then, just two weeks before the start of the season, he announced that he was unable to join citing personal reasons.

Naturally, Essex are hoping that there are no such issues this time and are looking forward to the 27-year-old leading the attack. Head coach Paul Grayson said: “We are delighted to have signed Australia’s premier bowler in Test cricket.

“Australia are looking keep him fresh for their schedule and, for Peter, this will be a chance for him to enhance his one-day skills. We are all very excited to be bringing in a world-class bowler for our Twenty20 Cup campaign.”

Siddle has taken 114 Test wickets, including a hat-trick in the first match of the 2010-11 Ashes series, although he has not played limited-overs cricket for his country since 2010.

He is the county’s second leading overseas player signing for 2012 after they recruited South African Test batsman Alviro Petersen for the first two months of a campaign in which he is scheduled to play eight County Championship matches and four Clydesdale Bank 40 games.

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