Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon thrust into leadership
On the same day he anointed Peter Siddle spearhead of Australia's least seasoned bowling attack for 23 years, the head coach Mickey Arthur has stressed the spinner Nathan Lyon must also be prepared to play the role of a leader in the first Test against New Zealand.
Siddle and Arthur spoke at length during the team's first training session in Brisbane, the Victorian paceman accepting the critical role he must play in a bowling quartet that will feature two debutants alongside himself and Lyon. James Pattinson is favoured to take the third spot, leaving the local man Ben Cutting to duel with Mitchell Starc's left-arm for the final place. All will get the chance to influence the captain and selector Michael Clarke when he bats in the Gabba nets on Tuesday.
Having selected the most callow Australian bowling ensemble since the 1988 Pakistan tour - the last time an XI was chosen with fewer than the 126 wickets this team can boast between its members - Arthur and Clarke must decide on a practical balance.
Each of Pattinson, Cutting and Starc have been commonly used as aggressors by their states and are not so familiar with the hard graft of long spells, leaving Siddle to do much of the heavy lifting. Arthur said that Lyon, who has been ushered gently into Test cricket by Clarke over his first five Tests, would now have more to do.
"That's certainly going to be a role we're going to need," Arthur said. "I think our spinner can play that role quite effectively, I thought he bowled beautifully today, so I'm hoping he can play that role, and then we can rotate those guys.
"Bowling at the Gabba, overs 0-30 is about getting the ball up and making the ball work for you, 30-60 is the hard work, rolling the sleeves up, hitting back of a length and building pressure, and hopefully 60-80 you can get the ball to reverse. I'm hoping that overs 30-60 the young guys can stand up and build that pressure as much as we need the pressure to be built at that time.
"There's going to be four real young bowlers, Pete Siddle is going to have to lead the attack for us, there's no doubt about that. I had a chat to him about it this morning and he's ready for that responsibility. But it is going to be interesting, we've got to look at what's going to be the best attack, and who's bowling the best and gives us the most variation."
Lyon has never bowled at the Gabba, but can expect to profit from the bounce and occasional turn available to a spin bowler with sufficient discipline. Graeme Swann struggled for traction on the ground in last year's Ashes Test, but later said that was more to do with bowling badly than not finding any comfort in the surface.
"At the Gabba if it's done a little bit it generally starts a little bit soft, which allows a bit of grip," Arthur said. "And the one thing a spinner does get is bounce, and spinners thrive on bounce. So they do get bounce here. I'm really hoping he can do the job, I reckon he can."
Siddle agreed the task ahead was as daunting as it would be exciting, guiding bowlers as young and unaffected as he was on his debut against India at Mohali in 2008. Since then, Siddle has fought injuries but also refined his body shape, to be the hardiest if not flashiest member of Australia's pace battery.
"A little bit daunting, thinking these blokes are all so young and all haven't played, so that does make it a little bit daunting, but it does make it exciting as well," Siddle said. "To get the opportunity to play with some of these guys that obviously can be the future of Australian cricket, to go out there and hopefully lead them and show them some good things.
"I'm looking forward to it … it is going to be tough and nervous for them at the start, but I'm looking forward to being a part of it with them, being able to enjoy it with them. Even last week to be involved with Patty [Cummins] and talk to him at mid off or mid on and just see how he goes about it, I'm very excited about these next few weeks."
Given his knack for away swing, Pattinson appears the most likely debutant to share the new ball, a welcome scenario for Siddle having known the younger man since he was "about 10 years old".
"I've played with his brother in club cricket for about 11 years now and I've known Jimmy since he was about 10, so he's been like a little brother to me since I've moved down to Melbourne," Siddle said. "I've enjoyed the times I've got to play with him for Victoria, so hopefully I do get the chance to get out on the park with him and better yet we could open the bowling together in a Test match, that would be quite amazing."
Among the players at Allan Border Field was a ginger-looking Shaun Marsh, who Arthur said was unlikely to be considered before the Boxing Day Test against India at the MCG.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo