By Martin Smith

PETER Siddle is back on a mission to kick-start Essex Eagles’ flagging Vitality Blast campaign.

The Australian fast bowler has returned for a second stint with the county after making a huge impact during his opening Specsavers County Championship spell in the spring.

Essex headed into a busy few days of Vitality Blast action having won just one of their opening six matches and were sat bottom of the south group before last night's scheduled game against Kent at Canterbury.

If Essex are to take one of the four qualifying places for the knockout stages, they know they will need a significant improvement in their remaining fixtures.

Those are due to continue today against Somerset at Taunton, before returning to Chelmsford for Surrey’s visit on Sunday (2.30pm start) and then a trip to Glamorgan on Tuesday evening.

Siddle has been in the country for a fortnight and is itching to get going again for Essex and is anticipating a big month of action.

“There have been a couple of close ones,” he said.

“The boys have been playing some good cricket, but falling a bit short.

"Hopefully this back-end of the tournament will be a lot more successful for us.

“We’ve got to try not to worry about the weather, or other games and results, and just go out and try and win as many matches as we can.

"It’s going to be tight, but it we can scrape into the quarters, anything can happen from there.

"It’s going to be a big month, but on the positive side, the boys haven’t been too far off.

"We probably need to be a bit better in all aspects – bat, ball and field – and the results will come.”

Essex’s final eight games are being squashed into a 16-day period.

“It’s pretty much a game every second day, and it can look daunting,” said Siddle.

“But if you do get on a roll you can fly through these games because they are so close.

"If you can get some confidence and momentum going you can pick up a couple of wins real quick.

"If we can start well and pick up two wins in back-to-back games, that really does kick-start us for the rest of the competition.”

The former Australian Test bowler is oven-ready for the Blast after playing for Montreal Tigers in the inaugural Global T20 tournament in Canada at the start of last month.

“It gave me a little refresher before coming back here," he added.

"It definitely helped.

"I learnt a few new tricks and played alongside some gun international players.”

Siddle took 11 wickets in his five games at an average of 15.45 each, though his economy rate of 9.44 was noticeably higher than his career T20 of 6.96.

“It was always going to be hard for a bowler out there,” he said.

“It's pretty much a 50-metre ground - one of the smallest anywhere in the world.

"The ground and facilities probably weren’t as good as the organisations would have liked, but considering they only had six weeks to get it up and running, it was a great success and is only going to go from strength to strength.”

Siddle, whose three for 17 in the Big Bash final helped Adelaide Strikers to victory over Hobart Hurricanes, would be available for the Blast quarter-finals, should Essex sneak through, but probably not finals day.

His contract is due to end after the home Championship match against Surrey on September 7 and his duties with Victoria begin nine days later. “Hopefully it’s not the last time I’ll be over here playing for Essex,” said the 33-year-old.

“I’ve played cricket for a long time – 15 years now at the professional level – and to be able to walk into a group like Essex’s and have the most fun I’ve had in my whole career, is testament to the club and how they welcomed me in.”

The feeling is mutual.

Siddle took 20 wickets in his initial stay at 16.10 apiece, and captain Ryan ten Doeschate was moved to tweet when he left: “The numbers tell only half the story. He’s been a brilliant team man, thanks from all the players.”

Siddle responded: “It’s easy for people to say that to you, but to put it out there to the public shows how much respect you can get at different places.

"I wasn’t doing anything different, I was just being me.

"But it’s nice to get that feedback.”