Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane November 24, 2010

Injury lay-off costs Bollinger his place


A lack of game time has cost Doug Bollinger his spot for the first Ashes Test despite him being Australia's most potent bowler of the past 12 months. Peter Siddle won the final place in the XI on his pre-injury reputation, but the same set of guidelines did not apply to Bollinger.

Bollinger picked up 47 wickets at 22.02 in his past 10 matches but the numbers were not enough to regain his position after hurting his stomach in the first Test in India. While Siddle, who has appeared in 17 Tests, has completed a solid workout in the domestic and limited-overs sides, Bollinger was limited to one four-day fixture for New South Wales.

"Lack of bowling [for Bollinger] over the last few weeks has been as much to do with it as anything," Ricky Ponting said as he announced his side. "Just the fact this line-up had good success in South Africa and at times in England last series. We feel that [Ben] Hilfenhaus and Siddle are very well advanced in their preparations for this series and [Mitchell] Johnson has a lot of cricket under his belt. We think this attack is good enough to take 20 wickets at the Gabba."

Johnson has the most victims for Australia over the past 12 months with 52, but Bollinger's strike-rate of a wicket every 41.7 balls is seven better than Johnson's. Siddle has not played a Test since January after suffering a back stress fracture that kept him out of tours to New Zealand, England and India.

For the past two years the Australians have raved about the Johnson-Siddle-Hilfenhaus pace attack because of its stunning work in the opening two Tests of the 2008-09 series in South Africa. The trio also led the overall wicket list during the 2009 Ashes but it wasn't enough to set up a series victory.

Ponting briefly considered a four-man pace attack for this game but quickly changed his mind when he saw the pitch. The surface is light green and Ponting said it looked like a normal Gabba wicket, but he was cagey when asked if he would still bat first. "We will wait and see what happens," he said.

The forecast cloudy conditions and humidity will add to the dangers offered by the wicket, but Ponting still wanted the safety of a spinner and Tasmania's Xavier Doherty will make his debut. The bowlers are expected to control the match and even though the Australians have had trouble on seaming surfaces lately, Ponting believed England would have more difficulty handling the extra bounce.

"History suggests that every touring team coming to Australia generally finds here and Perth the places harder to adjust and adapt to," he said. "England have been here a while and in Hobart last week it seamed around a little bit. But history suggests we handle these conditions very, very well and opposition teams struggled a bit." Australia have not lost a game at the Gabba since they were beaten by West Indies in 1988-89.

Michael Clarke batted strongly in the nets and completed a fielding session as well to secure his place. "I've got to wait till tomorrow morning to see how I pull up, but it felt good today," he said during training.

Ponting said there was no danger in using Clarke, who needed injections after a recurrence of his persistent back problem two weeks ago. "I wouldn't have thought there would be a risk involved," he said. "It's a big game for us at the start of the series and you don't want to go with a cloud hanging over anybody. That was why he was asked to do as much batting as he did yesterday and again today. We couldn't afford to leave any stone unturned as far as preparation is concerned."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    @"siddle is out of form" .... lol :)

  • Nick on November 25, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    So how many of you Siddle knockers on here are eating humble pie right now??? Like I said before the game Siddle will take wickets in this game....and he has done better than Dougy would have..Go Aussies!

  • Russell on November 24, 2010, 23:17 GMT

    @ landl47 - the point is that he is good in Australia. Who cares is he only picked up a handful of wickets in England? He made a huge impact in the IPL & was bowling really well in India before pulling up injured on the last (and crucial) day of the first test in India. Make no mistake - in Australian conditions he is superb & far superior to Siddle.

    @ Peter Bourke - Well said mate. Very frustrating selections.

  • Kell on November 24, 2010, 22:44 GMT

    @Peter Bourke : Spot on. I think you have summed up most followers feelings exactly.

  • Michael on November 24, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    Harris would have been available if he wasnt injured and would have been a good selection. If Bollinger is fully fit he should be playing instead of Siddle, heck he is the most consistant out of all the pace bowlers considered. Siddle will try hard all day, he is a workhorse but lets not forget this is his first international game since injury, so game rust could be a factor. Should be a cracker of a test match weather permitting i cant wait!!!!

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2010, 21:53 GMT

    Aussies are difficult to comprehend...may be becos they lack common sense. Bollinger is their man to be in that sqad leading the bowling attack, and now he is out of the sqaud..u must be kidding...anyways...bollinger alone cud not have saved another australian debacle... Strauss this is the time to take off Punter out of the playing 11 ;-)

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2010, 21:44 GMT

    Stupidity at it best!!!1 leaving out your best bowler and choosing a debutant spinner. Are the Aussies lost their sense of cricket?

  • Andrew on November 24, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    I would not want to be facing up to NSW this week in the shield. Dougie did not look happy and apaprently sent down a fierce session in the nets in fron tof the selectors who were on the receiving end of the stares that he usually reserves for opposition batsmen.

    The stupid thing is that the reason that he has had a long lay off is that he followed the instructions from the team physios to the letter. He has been saying for ages he is right to go and got through a shield match with no problems and then was told to rest. I just hope that this either forces Siddle to prove to everyone he should be in the team and does not result in the rest of australia proving they can choose a better team then the selectors when siddle struggles and dougie takes a bag of wickets for NSW.

  • Gopalakrishna on November 24, 2010, 20:56 GMT

    Bolly should have been there :( And Siddle at his best is never unplayable! Can somebody pls get Hodge to play :((

  • Adrian on November 24, 2010, 19:41 GMT

    Bollinger and Ryan Harris should have both been playing. I don't believe that they were still suffering from injuries. Siddle is out of form and Hilfenhaus I am not convinced is good in Australian conditions.

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