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