South Africa in Australia, 2012-13

Starc, Johnson in contention for Adelaide

Brydon Coverdale

November 14, 2012

Comments: 69 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Starc sends one down, Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, January 13, 2012
Mitchell Starc was 12th man for the Gabba Test © Getty Images
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The left-armers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson could come into consideration for the Adelaide Test, despite Australia's strong performance in the draw at the Gabba. The selectors must decide on the most effective attack for the Adelaide Test, which starts in eight days, with James Pattinson and Peter Siddle expected to lead the bowling group again having impressed at the Gabba.

However, Ben Hilfenhaus appeared below his best, having had a lead-up dominated by short-form cricket, and should the left-armer Starc perform well in the ongoing Sheffield Shield match in Sydney, he will give the selectors another option. There is even a chance Mitchell Johnson, who troubled the South Africans in 2008-09, could come into calculations following some fiery spells for Western Australia over the past few weeks.

On his return home to Perth, Australia's coach Mickey Arthur went straight to the WACA ground to watch Johnson in action for the Warriors against South Australia. The inclusion of a left-armer, either Starc or Johnson, would also have the benefit of creating some rough footmarks that could make the offspinner Nathan Lyon a more dangerous weapon in Adelaide.

"It's a good question and certainly worth some consideration going in to Adelaide. With the rough that might be created it could be quite good," Arthur said. "But Starcy is also on song at the moment, he's swinging it nicely, he's bowling with good pace. It's another option for us and a nice one for us bearing in mind he's a left-armer.

"I was happy with the work that all our bowlers did [at the Gabba]. After day one I was really happy. I thought their speeds were definitely up, I thought our lines were a lot better, I thought we built a lot more pressure. I'm content with the way we went. Mitchell [Starc] is playing a Shield game at the moment. Let's see how he goes in that one and it might give us another option come Adelaide."

One thing that is certain is that neither side will consider an all-pace attack in Adelaide. Lyon was the only specialist spinner who played at the Gabba and he was asked to do a huge amount of bowling - including a marathon 25-over spell across three sessions in South Africa's first innings - and Arthur was pleased with the way Lyon continued to flight the ball and tempt the batsmen despite being attacked early.

"Nathan bowled 50 overs in the game and it was probably clear that they were going to go quite hard at Nathan early on," Arthur said. "They did that but he stuck to his guns. I thought his variation in his pace was good. I thought he built some pressure. I'm happy where Nathan is. He goes back to Adelaide, goes back to his home pitch and I'm comfortable that he's in a good enough space for us."

Australia's selectors must also decide on whether to risk the inclusion of the vice-captain Shane Watson, who missed the Gabba Test due to a calf injury. Watson will bowl for the first time on Friday and his chances of appearing at Adelaide Oval appear slim, unless he can convince the selectors and team management that he is capable of more than a few overs.

"Watto has had two nets and he's come through them very well," Arthur said. "He did a bit of running [on Tuesday] and came through that well. He's having a bowl on Friday and we'll see late in the week or into next week exactly where Watto is. We'll have to sit down and consider what we think is the best XI going in to the Adelaide Test and Shane would come in for a huge amount of consideration."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by NotU on (November 16, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

So Starc fails to take a wicket with the new ball when it mattered and that improves his chances of a baggy green? Man they should just hand out baggy greens in the N.S.W. dressing shed.

Posted by Meety on (November 16, 2012, 0:25 GMT)

@MarcOD on (November 15 2012, 05:50 AM GMT) - I was a big fan of MJ, but don't have the confidence in him atm. That said - should the NSP select him, I would hope they would do so based on something other than he played well against the Saffas before!

Posted by Ross_Co on (November 15, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Please God not Johnson - he's the Australian version of Finn - good to win one test a year, leaks runs like a busted tap in all of the others. If he'd ever consistently lived up to his promise we'd be a couple of hundred points ahead of everyone else in the test rankings, but he never did & he drags the team down with him and we end up losing to the likes of 'England'. We're doing just fine without him thanks.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

my team for stralia 1.Warner 2.Cowan 3.Ponting 4.Clarke 5.Hussey 6.Forrest 7.Wade 8.Starc 9.Pattinson 10.Siddle 11.Lyon

Posted by Moppa on (November 15, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

Fair point, @MarcOD, I for one haven't seen Johnson bowl this season. But Johnson is a confidence player and I'm not convinced that his Shield form wouldn't disappear in a puff of smoke if Amla and Kallis dug in and made life tough for him. In particular, he rarely fights back from a poor first spell to deliver the goods later. Harsh to judge a man on the past without considering the present, but it's too much of a risk that he'll have an off day in a crucial Test match - why take the chance?

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

So they are debatin which left arm swing bowler to use... haha what a delimer indeed!! Hmmm who do you go for, the more expierenced or the young which has some experience.. I guess it all comes down to current form...

Poor Australia for having to worry about whot o select

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (November 15, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

The problem with selecting Johnson is that it's akin to rolling dice on the test match. Roll two sixes and you win. Roll anything else, you lose.

Posted by featurewriter on (November 15, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

I'd have Johnson in the team in a heartbeat. Anyone who has played cricket at any decent level understands the value of this guy. He may be erratic at times, but he is also the kind of guy who can grab three or four wickets in succession and turn a game on its head (as well as doing similar things with the bat). I've never been a fan of Hilfenhaus; pressure is applied by taking wickets, not by bowling restrictive deliveries (that's so English!). I'd also bring back Watson if he's recovered from injury. I'd go Warner, Cowan, Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Wade, Johnson, Siddle, Pattinson and Lyon. That gives us seven batsmen and two very useful lower order bats (Johnson and Siddle); as well as four pace bowlers, two off-spinners, a leggy and a medium pacer.

Posted by MarcOD on (November 15, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

I was happy to see Johnson move back to domestic cricket and make way for some of our current test bowlers and I was hoping that he wouldnt make it back to the test team. But I dont know how many of you that are currently bagging him and saying he shouldnt be close to consideration have seen him bowl this summer for WA? It pains me to say it but he is possibly the form fast bowler in domestic cricket at the moment. He is bowling as fast as I have ever seen him bowl in the past and he is swinging the ball in to the right handers consistently and with control. I encourage people to try and have a look at some video footage of his current form, he looks in scary good form and I think he would actually be a good addition to the team at the moment. I wonder how many people are making comments on his past form and havnt seen any recent footage of him

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

Dropping Hilfenhaus would be a massive mistake. Don't forget that he was actually more effective than Philander and Steyn - the world's highest ranked test bowlers - on a very flat Gabba wicket. His patient, economical bowling allowed Pattinson and Siddle to push for wickets and not be worried about going for 4+ per over.

As for his pace - either everyone was slower than usual or there has been a change to the equipment setup for measuring the speed of deliveries. Steyn was rarely recorded over140 and Pattinson seemed to hover around 135.

I like Starc but he doesn't have Hilf's 4-day pedigree and needs to prove himself with consistent shield bowling first. And Johnson? Would be surprised if he played test cricket for Aus again but stranger things have happened.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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