Paceman Peter Siddle has backed Australia’s attack to shrug off a glut of injuries that have hit the team’s fast bowling stocks ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka starting on Wednesday.
Australia, who have won just one of their past four Tests, have enjoyed precious little continuity in their pace attack due to injuries and fatigue, and are set for another reshuffle with Ben Hilfenhaus ruled out of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
Left-armers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnston, and the uncapped Jackson Bird are vying to join Siddle in a three-man pace attack at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with selectors likely to retain spinner Nathan Lyon.
Siddle, man of the match with nine wickets in Australia’s last-gasp defeat of Sri Lanka in Hobart on Monday, said the hosts’ reserves were strong enough to step up to the challenge.
“That’s probably been the big thing that we’ve done well in especially the past 18 months,” Siddle told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.
“Whoever’s come into the squad they’ve known what they had to do.
“The guys that have come in have shown that they can execute their skills and work with the rest of the players in the squad to maintain that pressure.
“That’s what the success that we’ve had in that time has come down to.
“The squad has changed a lot with the bowlers, but we’ve stuck together, we’ve worked well as a team.”
Australia have lost young pacemen Pat Cummins and James Pattinson for the home series, and selectors have stoked controversy by adopting a rotation policy to preserve the fitness of the remaining bowlers.
Both Hilfenhaus and Siddle were rested for Australia’s loss against South Africa in the third Test in Perth, which cost them the series 1-0, while local media have speculated 22-year-old Starc could be dropped for the Melbourne Test despite taking a five-wicket haul in the second innings in Hobart.
Siddle backed the rotation policy, however, and said would-be debutant Bird would be well suited to the MCG, where he has taken 14 wickets at an average of 12.07 in two Sheffield Shield games.
“It’s a very patient ground,” 28-year-old Siddle said.
“I guess I’ve had my success a similar way to (Bird) – you bowl nagging lengths and be patient, you bowl tight lines – that’s sort of been the go-to here for us.
“He’s a very similar type to those sort of styles.”
The third and final Test starts in Sydney on January 3.