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Positives seen in Siddons' return

HAMISH BIDWELL

Last updated 05:00 15/01/2013

Wellington coach Jamie Siddons looks set to return to Bangladesh - if only for a few months.

Siddons coached the Bangladesh national team from October 2007 to April 2011, before signing up with the Firebirds.

Now, on the back of Tamim Iqbal's short, but successful, stint as one of Wellington's Twenty20 imports, it seems players and administrators back in Bangladesh have decided they require Siddons' expertise once again.

Siddons confirmed on Sunday that he was considering an offseason offer to return to Dhaka, where he would take up a role as the national team's batting coach. The 48-year-old Australian is contracted to Wellington till the end of the 2013-14 summer and would be back well before pre-season training started.

Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton said he was aware of the offer from Bangladesh and encouraged Siddons to accept it.

"We've got an arrangement with Jamie whereby, for professional development purposes, he is able to take up overseas coaching positions and that's a great thing, an excellent thing, not only for Jamie but for us as an organisation," Clinton said.

"So if he's able to pick up an IPL or a[n English] county contract or potentially even a national sub-coaching contract, then that's part of the arrangement we originally installed with Jamie."

Aside from aiding Siddons' own development, Clinton likes the whole idea because it broadens the coach's network of potential recruits.

The Firebirds have used six Twenty20 imports this season and that number could swell to eight, by the time the finals series is over.

Cameron Borgas seems like he'll be here for the duration, but the identity of who'll join him for Friday's semifinal at the Basin Reserve will only be determined by this week's results in the Australian Big Bash. Some high-profile names are in the mix, which Clinton said was a credit to Siddons.

"One of the values of Jamie being the coach is that he's got a lot of players on his call list and he can very quickly go to players and see if they're available or can recommend other guys," said Clinton.

"We've taken 99 per cent of our lead from him and Deitzy [assistant coach Shane Deitz] around the availability and form of those imports and that's been pretty successful so far.

"He still carries a lot of weight within that Australian environment. People know who he is and when he calls and says: ‘I'd like you to play for my team', it's not just anyone calling, it's Jamie Siddons."

Siddons retired, in 2000, as the all-time leading scorer in Australia's Sheffield Shield and went on to become assistant coach of the national side, under John Buchanan, so he has the type of standing that Clinton talks about.

More importantly, from a Wellington point of view, is that he's starting to achieve results with the Firebirds.

Friday's home semifinal, against either Northern Districts or Auckland, will be the first Twenty20 playoff match Wellington have contested.

This is the first season where a semifinal, in this case between the second- and third-placed finishers, has been staged, with the top-two teams having previously gone straight through to a final.

The Firebirds have never been anywhere near one of those with fourth placings in 2008-09 and 2006-07, their highest previous finishes.

With the Blaze winning Saturday's women's Twenty20 final and the A team claiming their provincial title, these are heady times for Cricket Wellington.

"There was a lot of hard work done over the winter, in terms of identifying priorities and financing those priorities, so it's been pleasing to have a plan, see that plan through, back yourself, have confidence you're doing the right thing and then see that success," Clinton said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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