Starc, Johnson in contention for Adelaide
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