Harris, Siddle out of Gabba Test
Ryan Harris will miss the Gabba Test with a slight strain to his quadriceps and Peter Siddle has been dropped from the attack that bowled Australia to victory in the Adelaide Test. Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood will make his long-awaited Test debut on Wednesday and left-armer Mitchell Starc has been recalled after last playing in the loss to Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
The stand-in captain Steven Smith announced the team at the Gabba on the day before the Test, also confirming that he would move up to No.4 in the batting order with Shaun Marsh to slot in at No.5. Smith said he was hopeful that Harris would be fit for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne but the selectors could not risk him given the short turnaround since Adelaide.
"Ryan Harris pulled up a little bit stiff and sore from Adelaide," Smith said. "He's got a slight quad strain. Darren Lehmann has always said if our bowlers aren't 100% fit going into the match we won't be playing them. It's very unfortunate for Ryan but hopefully he gets his body right soon.
"I think he'll be okay in a couple of days. It's just going into a Test match if you're not 100% fit that's the way it goes with this team. Hopefully he gets a bit of work done with the physios in the next couple of days and can start running and hopefully he'll be fine for Melbourne."
The extra bounce on offer at the Gabba played some role in swaying the selectors towards choosing the tall Hazlewood and Starc. Siddle picked up only two wickets in the Adelaide Test and had a difficult tour of the UAE, and now faces the prospect of slipping below the younger members of the pace attack in the pecking order.
"In regards to the inclusion of Mitchell Starc, I think we just wanted to play a bowler with a bit of extra pace and bounce," Smith said. "Mitchell went back and bowled really well for New South Wales in the last couple of Shield games and deserves his spot.
"It's obviously very disappointing for Peter Siddle, who's been a terrific bowler over a long period of time. He's certainly not out of the loop. He's still in and around the team and hopefully he'll get another game soon."
Hazlewood, 23, will finally earn his first baggy green after being part of the Test squad on a number of occasions. Smith has played plenty of state cricket for New South Wales with Hazlewood and is impressed with the way he has developed.
"It's very exciting, I've watched Josh very closely over the last couple of years at New South Wales and he impresses me every time," Smith said. "He's only getting better and better. This pitch out here is going to suit him perfectly. He's very skilful for his age, and I'm just looking forward to seeing him zing a few through and bowl with that extra pace and get that extra bit of bounce as well.
"I think that's part of the reason Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been included in the team. It's traditionally quite a fast and bouncy wicket and it looks no different out there for this Test match. Hopefully after the wickets we've played on recently in Test cricket, the Adelaide Oval and the two in the UAE, it's exciting for our fast bowlers to finally have something that's going to have a bit of liveliness to it."
The three changes to the team also involve Shaun Marsh coming in for his first Test since the tour of South Africa earlier this year. He will move into the No.5 spot, his typical batting position recently for Western Australia, and Smith said he was happy to moved up the order and take on extra responsibility in his first Test as captain.
"I've had a chat to a couple of the senior players and the coach about it," Smith said. "I just thought taking over the captaincy and a bit of extra responsibility that I'd step up to No.4 and get the job done there. I don't think there's a big difference between batting 4 and 5, so that's just the way I've gone with it."
Australia 1 David Warner, 2 Chris Rogers, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Shaun Marsh, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale