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Spin doctor Siddle keeps hoping

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Peter Siddle

Peter Siddle traps Kevin Pietersen lbw for 51 - for his third wicket on "another tough day" for Australia in the MCG Test

Peter Siddle did his best to put a positive spin on what was another exasperating day for Australia at the MCG.

Siddle remained the hosts’ best bowler in the fourth Test and was rewarded with three wickets as England built on yesterday’s outstanding display in Melbourne.

The tourists progressed to 444 for five at stumps, a lead of 346, thanks primarily to Jonathan Trott’s fifth Test hundred and third against Australia.

Another difficult day for home captain Ricky Ponting was compounded with him fined 40% of his match fee as punishment for a prolonged confrontation first with umpire Aleem Dar and then Dar’s colleague Tony Hill.

Ponting was unhappy that his side’s review for caught behind against Kevin Pietersen was turned down and he was later hit in the pocket by the International Cricket Council.

Siddle, speaking before the ICC revealed Ponting’s punishment, thrice responded to questions about the incident with “no comment”.

The bowler was at least more forthcoming about the rest of the day’s play and Australia’s prospects for tomorrow.

“It was a tough day, starting so far behind,” he said. “It’s always hard work. We knuckled in today and only got five wickets, but I think we contained them for most of the day and didn’t let them get away which is a positive for us.

Peter Siddle, Aleem Dar & Ricky Ponting

Siddle, left, thrice replied "no comment" to questions about Ricky Ponting's confrontation with Aleem Dar, centre

“Hopefully we can come out tomorrow morning and do the same thing.”

Siddle, who knows the MCG well, is confident the pitch is flattening out sufficiently to give Australia hope of saving the game when they bat again.

“Being a Victorian I’ve played a few times here and the wicket does flatten out a lot over days two, three and four so there’s plenty of runs still out there,” he predicted.

“If we can get a couple of early ones tomorrow morning and get back out there with the stick, there’s obviously a lot of work to be done but it will be a good opportunity to get out there and get some runs on the board ourselves.”

Siddle insisted the Australia’s mood is still positive, despite now having been in the field for four sessions and still having half of England’s first-innings wickets to take.

“The boys are feeling good,” he added. “It was obviously another tough day but they’re still upbeat and there’s still a lot of Test match cricket to be played here.

“It wasn’t a bad day, not as many wickets as we would have liked but there’s plenty of positives.

“We bowled a lot more patient today, a lot more consistent as a group and I think that’s what we can head out tomorrow morning and look to do again.”

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