Essex have re-signed Peter Siddle for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The 33-year-old seamer has just completed the second of two successful spells at Chelmsford this summer before returning to Australia for domestic duty with Victoria.
Siddle claimed 37 wickets at 16.40 in his seven Championship games, having initially signed for the first month of the campaign. He returned in August, after Neil Wagner filled the overseas role during the middle of the season, and took 7 for 70 in the win over Hampshire - although Essex's hopes of retaining their Division One title were ended by this week's defeat to leaders Surrey.
His contributions ensured Essex's bowling retained the cutting edge that saw them win the Championship in 2017, though the batting has fallen short this time around leaving the defending champions mid-table. They will hope that the presence of Alastair Cook, who will return to the county fold after international retirement, further strengthens their challenge next year.
"I have loved my time at the club so far with the players and staff giving me a great welcome, and I really feel part of the team at Essex," Siddle said. "As an overseas player, I am always committed to taking the whole experience in and not just picking up my money and being on my way at the end of a contract.
"There is a wealth of talent in this squad who are hungry for more success and I am thrilled that I can join them for a further two season and be part of it. I'm also really excited to play alongside Cooky, we've had some really great battles in the past and it's going to be fun to play on the same side as him rather than against him."
Essex expect to have Siddle, who played the last of his 62 Tests in November 2016, available throughout the 2019 season - although there remains a possibility that his proficiency in English conditions could tempt Australia to bring him into their Ashes plans.
"We are ecstatic that Peter has agreed to be with us for a further two years," Essex's head coach, Anthony McGrath, said. "We have all seen the qualities he brings to this squad and complements our bowling attack perfectly. He has a wealth of experience and the professional attitude he applies every time he heads out onto the field is commendable, as well as being a great person to have around the club off the field."
Two players who will not be part of Essex's set-up for 2019 are Ashar Zaidi, the Pakistan-born allrounder, and academy product Callum Taylor. Zaidi signed from Sussex in 2016, playing 34 T20, 26 List A and five Championship matches for Essex, but has not had his contract renewed, while Taylor, a former England U-19, departs having failed to force his way into the first team.