South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 27, 2012

Siddle, Hilfenhaus put on ice


Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus will not bowl another ball before the first morning of the third Test against South Africa, beginning on November 30 in Perth, as Australia try to freshen up the exhausted fast bowlers after their unstinting but ultimately fruitless efforts in Adelaide.

Siddle's performance was particularly noteworthy, pushing through crippling fatigue to take the hosts to within two wickets of a 1-0 series lead. Those exertions mean both he and Hilfenhaus are in considerable doubt to be recovered in time for Perth, leaving open the possibility of a dramatically recast bowling attack that may feature Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood.

Australia coach Mickey Arthur indicated that a wholesale swap of bowlers for Perth was a distinct possibility, granting the captain Michael Clarke a far fresher line-up of bowlers while South Africa continue to rely on the same quartet they brought for the tour. The visitors have been helped by the stout batting display that not only secured a draw but also gave Australia's bowlers an enormous workload while their opposite numbers reclined in the Adelaide Oval dressing rooms.

"It's certainly something we need to look at," Arthur said. "I think both Hilf and Sids have been outstanding, especially Sids - I thought there was a huge effort, a really warrior-like effort. We've got a couple of days off, I can't see them bowling any balls at training, so we've just got to see how they pull up, see how they come up in Perth.

"Hence we've given ourselves cover, in case they don't pull up well we're in a position where we could go with a completely different attack into Perth. That will depend on how Hilf and Sids travel, and we've had Mitchell Starc with us and we know he's ready to go as well.

"The training becomes more individualised now with such a quick turnaround. We've got a lot of new bowlers coming in, those bowlers will be very keen to impress I'm sure. So the quality of bowling around the nets is going to be first rate - and I'm sure our bowlers are going to get a really good hit out and be ready to go, come Friday morning."

Johnson's return to the squad for the first time since he suffered a serious foot injury while batting during the dramatic Johannesburg match a year ago is a nod to his formidable record in Tests at the WACA ground - 30 wickets at 18.13 in four matches - but also an acknowledgement of his improved consistency this summer.

"That does play a role, he's had good success at the WACA ground but he's just shown really good progression through the whole summer so far and it's really good to have him back. He gives that little bit of fire and if selected sure he'll be ready to go," Arthur said. "I thought Mitchell was outstanding for us in the one day series in Pakistan, he bowled superbly, arguably one of our best bowlers there during that one day series.

"He's been making good progress through Shield cricket, I went and had a look at him at the WACA just last week and he looked in fairly good touch ... so I think he obviously thoroughly deserves his place and we're very lucky we have a lot of depth in this bowling department right now. These two guys [Siddle and Hilfenhaus] have given it their all and we can have a look at how everybody comes up and make a really well-considered decision for Friday."

Another decision Arthur described as well-considered was that to play James Pattinson at Adelaide Oval after he pushed through 53 overs in the first Test of the series at the Gabba. Having bowled only 9.1 overs in South Africa's first innings in the second Test, Pattinson was forced off by a side/rib injury that ended his Test summer. 
"He's a young fast bowler, he's going to get injured," Arthur said. "Medical reports were that he should be ok, ultimately myself and Michael [Clarke] and the selector on duty make the call and we wanted to go with Patto because we thought he had bowled really well in Brisbane. Unfortunately, young fast bowlers get injured so it was disappointing to lose him during the Test match."

One of Arthur's chief tasks will be to ensure his team looks beyond the disappointment of Adelaide, emphasising the positives of dominating the world's No. 1 team for extended periods of both Tests rather than mulling over the two wickets they were unable to take to secure victory.

"We've had a quick chat about that - it took a massive amount out of the blokes and I'm just so proud of the effort each and every one of them gave. The guys are gutted we didn't pull this Test match off," Arthur said. "We spoke to them about it, hopefully we can put that behind us now and it all starts again for us first ball in Perth on Friday."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on November 29, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    @SDR_ on (November 28 2012, 18:14 PM GMT) - I agree with what you say about Bird. However, I would say that Hastings is a different bowler since his shoulder injury, & his stats this summer have been every bit as impressive as Bird's. I also disagree about Copeland. I do believe he is Test standard, although I say that mindful of him not being able to secure a place in the NSW bowling line up atm.

  • Sam on November 28, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    I don't understand where the selection of John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood has come from. Yes Hastings has had a okay start to the Shield and Domestic season, but is he really Test quality? One thing is for sure Trent Copeland is not Test quality, we tried him and he just isn't at that standard. Same goes for Hastings. He's had a shot at the international level, recently, and he wasn't up to it. If you really want him around, let him prove himself again over time with consistency. And Hazlewood, I can understand the selectors wanting to bring a youngster into the squad, but at least bring someone in who is performing and is a real shot at being our next attacking option. Hazlewood is not there yet, but Jackson Bird is. The Tassie opener has taken 27 wickets already this year at an average of 20 and striking at 38, aligned to his overall record of 87 wickets at 19, striking at 39, and with 6 5-wicket innings and 2 10-wicket hauls. Swing, cut, pace & deadly accuracy, its what we need.

  • Andrew on November 28, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    Four fast bowlers plus Watson will lighten the workload on Siddle. At Perth the spin can be handled by Clarke and perhaps Warner.

    Hopefully Watson can also shore up first drop and Ponting will reward the selectors faith in him. If Ponting fails this will probably be his farewell test.

  • Anthony on November 28, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    It makes much more sense to bring in fresh bowlers, given that all our bowlers are of similar quality anyway. I'm very worried about Siddle in particular, he gave so much in Adelaide. What happened with SA last time in Perth should also come into consideration. If Siddle and Hilfenhaus only last 3.5 days not even a 300 from Clarke would save us. Just because the SA bowlers will be no fresher than ours is no reason not to use home advantage and rotate the bowlers.

  • Asif on November 28, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    As a neutral cricket fan watching this series, these 2 teams have provided another great advert for Test cricket. AUS batting has been awesome. Dale Steyn, who is the No.1 Test fast bowler in the world seems to have been completely neutralised. At the same time, I cant help feeling that if Warne and McGrath were stl around, they surely would have got those last 2 wickets. Du Plessis did a great job for SA ! So kudos to both teams. SA did not really look like a World No.1, dominant team. Overall AUS has dominated more sessions. They will be really aggressive at Perth as well, and have a 60:40 chance of pulling off a series win. Will that mean the 4th No.1 Test team in the world in abt 18 months ??!!!

  • anton on November 28, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    (cont...) For the record, I agree that Australia have by far had the better of the two tests. But the stats have been skewed by Clarke's amazing run, the freak that was Day 1 of the second test, South Africa playing two innings missing a top order batsman (which means batting stats are skewed more towards tailenders), various in-match injuries to both teams, the match positions (strategy of attacking vs defending), etc. They can't be used to accurately sum up the series.

    The way I see it, if this was a boxing match Australia have won the first two rounds convincingly on points. But going into the third round either team could deliver the knockout blow. If it's a draw, Australia can claim the moral victory. Not sure either team wants that

  • anton on November 28, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    @Marcio, you said 'AUS will come out fighting in Perth, and I see no reason why they cannot continue their domination via bat and ball'... seeing as you like statistics, consider that after the first two tests during the previous tour between these two in Australia, SA had a run per wicket average of 53.5 and Australia were 33.4. So 20 runs behind. Similiar to the current statistic you presented. However, Australia managed to overcome that domination to win the final test. Could you see a reason for that happening?

    Putting stats aside, perhaps there were other reasons for the turnaround, and that is the point. Firstly, stats do not tell the whole story. Secondly, just because one team has dominated, doesn't mean they will continue to do so against another team that has similar abilities. I think these two are evenly matched. (tbc)

  • Marcio on November 28, 2012, 12:34 GMT

    @Thom Nienaber, I'm glad at least one Saffa shares a similar perspective to me! I am not "spewing obnoxiousness" as Wesley Lazarus seems keen to believe, just offering a biased but rational take on the series to date. Next game starts from a clean slate, bring it on!

  • allan on November 28, 2012, 12:16 GMT

    Oz have dominated the best side in the world for much of this series, granted. But doesn't that just show that the margins are so small? One individual performance can make all the difference - look at KP, when he does his genius thing, England can do anything. Without it, they can be quite ordinary. And that is why I can't help thinking, if SA can actually manage to get Pup out, then we will see that they deservedly are the best side in the world, by winning the match and the series. If the brilliant individual performance comes from a Saffer this time - and Dale Steyn is seriously due - then despite all Oz's dominance, they will finish second.

  • Roo on November 28, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Be surprised if both Sidds & Hilfy miss this Test if fit & if Watson is fit to bowl... Sidds/Hilfy; Starc; Johnson/Hastings; Lyon; Watto - be happy with either combinations... The Doctor is a big help to swing but a pain to bowl into (afternoon) - thats where you need a Watto & Lyon to put in some long spells - a spinner can get some decent hauls with Hauritz picking up 4 wkts in his only Test there as did Kumble when India beat us... Starc has had a 5 week build up for this Test & looks to have really developed since last summer so is ready to go - hope he gets a bag full...

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