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AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA TESTS

Siddle unsure of fitness for first Test

19 October 2016

Siddle returned from injury for Victoria in the Matador Cup // Getty

Sheffield Shield clash at the MCG to decide Siddle's fate ahead of the first Test

Peter Siddle has exceeded his own expectations while recovering from back stress fractures but the veteran paceman remains no certainty to be fit for the first Commonwealth Bank Test against South Africa in Perth.

Siddle, who returned for Victoria last Thursday then rolled his arm over again on Sunday, has delivered a total of 18 overs in the ongoing Matador BBQs One-Day Cup.

The 31-year-old was rested from Tuesday's clash and knows next week's Sheffield Shield clash against Tasmania at the MCG will be the match that decides whether he returns to the Test squad.

"Yeah, 100 per cent," Siddle said, when asked if he needs to bowl flat out in the first-class clash to warrant selection.

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Rod Marsh's panel will name their squad next Friday, October 28, with the three-Test series against South Africa to start the following Thursday.

"It just comes down to how much cricket I can play before that first Test, more so than how I'm feeling," Siddle said of his chances of facing the Proteas in Perth.

"It's been a good warm-up with the one-day games to be able to get a couple of spells out.

"It's about playing long-form cricket and getting two, three, four spells in a day and then having to back up the next day and go again in the second innings.

"Whether they (selectors) take me along to that first Test or I just keep working and get ready to play a part hopefully somewhere throughout the summer, we'll know more in the next couple of weeks."

Rabada puts Australia on notice

Australia's XI for the first Test is far from settled.

Most of the selection speculation has related to the batting order, with Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns expected to be recalled after being dropped during the Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka in August.

But the bowling attack is also far from set in stone. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are automatic selections if fit but Starc is yet to play a match since suffering a badly cut leg in a training mishap.

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Siddle and Jackson Bird loom as the frontrunners to claim the third pace berth in the side. James Pattinson and Pat Cummins headline the unavailable quicks.

Cummins has played for NSW in the ongoing domestic one-day tournament but is not yet ready for five days of Test cricket.

"I don't want to see him injured again, I want to see him out here for a while," Siddle said of Cummins.

"It will put him in good stead if he has a good summer of state cricket. There's plenty of one-day cricket to be played as well for Australia, which I think he can be a part of.

"And he's going to be a big part of Australian cricket so we've got to make sure he's right for the coming years."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

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