Australia in New Zealand 2014-15 February 16, 2016

Siddle a doubtful starter for Christchurch


Play 03:27
'No-ball situation is getting tough for umpires' - Lehmann

Peter Siddle is in danger of missing the second Test in Christchurch after Australia's coach Darren Lehmann declared that Siddle would "have to bowl pretty well in the days leading up" to the match to convince the selectors of his fitness. Siddle suffered back spasms during the second innings in Wellington and the short turnaround ahead of the second Test, which starts on Saturday, leaves him in serious doubt.

Siddle bowled only eight overs in the second innings, all before tea on day three; he was off the field for the next session and although he fielded on day four, he was not required to bowl. Should he be unavailable Siddle's control would be missed by the Australians, after he picked up 3 for 37 in the first innings and helped to build the pressure with his consistent line and length.

"If he's not 100% he won't play - that's what we do," Lehmann said of Siddle. "We'll wait and see how he pulls up in the next couple of days and he'd have to bowl pretty well in the days leading up. We've only got an extra day leading up now, so he'll have to recover pretty quickly. But we'll just wait and see."

It is not the first time this summer that Siddle has struggled with back spasms; a similar problem afflicted him during the day-night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide in November. James Pattinson would likely get the nod if Siddle is unavailable in Christchurch, although after suffering shin soreness in January, Pattinson also needs to prove his fitness, given the selectors overlooked him in Wellington due to concerns over whether he would last the match.

Lehmann said that Pattinson was "pretty close" to being ready and the captain Steven Smith said after the win in Wellington that Pattinson appeared to be tracking well to be available for Christchurch. The only other bowling option in the squad is the uncapped Chadd Sayers. Jackson Bird, who took only one wicket for the match and alternated between too short and too full in the first innings, will be hoping for another chance.

"I thought he got better throughout the game," Lehmann said of Bird. "He was a bit short and a bit wide and bit nervous in the first innings, as you would be having not played since Durham in 2013. So a little bit of nerves but he got better as the game went on which was good for him."

Bird's first-innings figures of 0 for 52 from 10 overs stand out given the success of the other bowlers as Australia skittled New Zealand for 183 inside 50 overs. Lehmann said that while there was something in the pitch for Australia's bowlers early on day one they had still done well to keep New Zealand to such a low total, and he was pleased with Australia's own strong batting effort.

"You knew what we were going to come up against and the type of wickets we were going to play on," Lehmann said. "Obviously New Zealand it's very similar to England I suppose, it had plenty of grass on it but it played better than it looked. I thought it wasn't a bad wicket, to be fair.

"It didn't do as much as we thought. I thought we bowled really well and maybe New Zealand let us in there with a couple of shots. I don't think it was a 183 wicket, to be perfectly honest. We just bowled in really good areas. We were up in the air whether we would bat or bowl first. It was only just at the toss the captain decided to bowl first. Right call in the end."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Guy on February 17, 2016, 9:40 GMT

    If there's even a skerrick of doubt about Siddle or Pattinson, pick Sayers. He's bowled a lot of overs in the Shield with a good average and few injuries - he's a solid bet. For mine the guy that should be in NZ in James Hopes. I know he's about 53 years old, but he's performing and, frankly, with Marsh at 6 Australia would be exposed if asked to bat on a green first day wicket. We could use some lower-order insurance. My team for 2nd test: Burns, Warner, Khawaja, Smith, Voges, M.Marsh, Nevill, Hopes, Hazlewood, Lyon, Sayers/Bird.

  •   Karthik Rayakar on February 17, 2016, 9:27 GMT

    It would be safer to rest SIddle and get Pattinson in. I doubt Siddle would recover to 100% health in such short time. Unimpressed with Bird. Sayers should be given a chance in the next match. Nevertheless we have Mitch Marsh who is an asset to the bowling unit whenever the guys break down. Love the way Hazelwood has improved. Starc, Hazelwood and Pattinson/Cummins would make the best bowling attack in the days to come along with Lyono and Marsh for the support. Uzzie, Davo, Smith, Nevill and Burns make up a stable team. The selectors better persist with Burns and Marsh.

  • Soy on February 17, 2016, 0:13 GMT

    I reckon give Sayers a go! The conditions suit his style and he's more like-for-like than Pattinson. Further, JP is a "sure thing" for the longer term and once he rights his injury streaks (if ever). Sayers may fade out after this for some time (he's not the horse for the courses that follow) and he's definitely worth a look, especially in conditions that suit him. No arrogance in that - NZ will come back and hard, more of a reflection that JP is possibly undercooked and also that Sayers in his own right is a very good bowler.

  • S on February 16, 2016, 22:37 GMT

    If Bird fails again and Pattinson goes off after 8 overs in the first Innings due to injury, then Hazzlewood will be left alone to carry the pace bowling. Pick Pattinson and Sayers both and drop Bird.

  • kieran on February 16, 2016, 21:00 GMT

    Sayers has been one of our best shield bowlers for a few years now, and considering he has to bowl in Adelaide he more than deserves the opportunity; if neither Patto or Sid is 100% then the only option is to give him his baggy green and say "good luck". Personally I'd prefer Pattinson, swinging it at 145kph he's got the pace and threat we like in our strike bowlers, and hes a pretty good lower order bat (our tail in the last test was the longest we've had in years).

  • sunil on February 16, 2016, 19:11 GMT

    i can be bit harsh here but the bitter truth is that CA never cared about starc n he himself was also careless ....if i m not wrong STARC even played all cheap matches of MATADOR CUP too ....y ??

  • viswanath on February 16, 2016, 16:52 GMT

    Josh hazlewood has been doing a great job for australia. He is fit and playing all the matches. Siddle has lost his pace and is bowling in mid 120's and early 130's. Pattinson gets injured quite often,so as pat cummins. Mitchell starc was fit for along time. But australia over used him by playing him continuously in all ashes tests and subsequent odi series.

  • Peter on February 16, 2016, 13:00 GMT

    Have a 2-tiered test cricket system and a world cup of tests between the top tier every 4 years

  • Adrian on February 16, 2016, 12:22 GMT

    You never want to go into a test match with doubts over a bowler's fitness and ability to last the match. For me, I would pick Chadd Sayers. The good news is that Australian bowling stocks are so great that there isn't much of a difference between Sayers and Siddle and I am sure that Sayers will do Australia proud. Time to pick him. Its better to have your 5th best bowler at full fitness than your 3rd or 4th best who are unlikely to last the full match. Its not a tough decision for me.

  • richard on February 16, 2016, 11:32 GMT

    @ Liam, perceptions can be deceiving as well, in the last 2 years Australia have won 2 tests in SA, 2 WI, 2 England, and 1 in NZ, and India and England are only 6 and 7 points behind ? maybe away wins ahould be worth more perhaps

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