Siddle a doubtful starter for Christchurch
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