India in Australia 2011-12 December 31, 2011

Australian attack could become world's best - Arthur

Australia's attack could become the best in the world, according to the coach Mickey Arthur. The Australians arrived in Sydney on Saturday ahead of the second Test against India, which starts on January 3 at the SCG, and they go into the game with a 1-0 lead following the strong performance of their three fast bowlers in Melbourne.

James Pattinson was Man of the Match for the second time in his three-Test career, Ben Hilfenhaus showed how much he has improved over the past year, and Peter Siddle's aggression and skill helped him dismiss Sachin Tendulkar in both innings. Australia are expected to retain the attack, which also includes the offspinner Nathan Lyon, in Sydney.

However, Ryan Harris has also joined the squad after recovering from his injuries, and as a proven Test performer will be ready should any member of the incumbent trio falter. The 18-year-old Pat Cummins, who made a remarkable debut in Johannesburg in November, will also be in the mix whenever he recovers fully from his foot problem.

Over the past few months, Australia have also used Mitchell Starc and Trent Copeland, while Shane Watson's medium pace will also be important when he returns to the side. Arthur said he was impressed by the depth in the pace stocks.

"I thought we had 15 players that can play international cricket at any given time," Arthur told reporters on Saturday. "Hopefully by the end of the summer we might have 22 guys that can do that because we need to build up our strength in depth, which we are doing now. But I do think this pace attack has the potential to become the best in the world."

Between them, the fast men took 19 of India's wickets at the MCG, the only exception being the final dismissal of the match, when Umesh Yadav lofted Lyon to long-on. However, Arthur did not expect a four-man pace attack to be on the cards at the SCG, despite the presence of Harris in the squad.

"I'm pretty loath to go into any Test match without a spinner," Arthur said. "Obviously conditions will determine that, but the SCG has normally got a history of favouring spin down the line.

"There is absolutely no doubt that they [India] will try and go after him [Lyon]," Arthur said. "But Nathan is a pretty skilful offspinner and I reckon that will develop into a very interesting contest. I think we'll get a lot of overs out of Nathan if it's a typical SCG wicket and I've got full confidence in his ability."

Arthur was also confident that Australia's top order could do the job against India, including Shaun Marsh, who was out to poor strokes in both innings in Melbourne. Together with David Warner and Ed Cowan, Marsh is part of an inexperienced top three, but Arthur believes they can become a strong group.

"I think we just need to give them time, especially our younger players at one, two and three," Arthur said. "David Warner is going to be a great player in all three forms of the game, same with Shaun Marsh. I think Ed Cowan gave us that stability that we were looking for, especially in the first innings."

The Australians will train at the SCG on Sunday morning.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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