Australia v South Africa Tests
Australia pick Siddle in Test XI
Victoria seamer wins battle to be Australia's third seamer alongside Starc and Hazlewood
Andrew Ramsey at the WACA
2 November 2016, 02:06 PM AEST
Australia have opted for experience rather than the untried for the opening Test of the home summer with Peter Siddle getting the nod ahead of uncapped quick Joe Mennie.
Captain Steve Smith today confirmed his XI for the first Commonwealth Bank Test against South Africa that begins at the WACA Ground tomorrow, which features two changes from the team that took the field in the final match of the disastrous Sri Lanka tour last August.
Siddle, who has spent the winter recovering from a back injury that curtailed his Test career in New Zealand last February, comes into the side as the third seamer replacing left-arm spinner Jon Holland.
And top-order batter Usman Khawaja, who lost his place after a string of low scores in Sri Lanka, returns to the line-up at the expense of all-rounder Moises Henriques who played as a specialist batsman in the final Test of the previous series.
Mennie, who was the surprise inclusion in the squad named for the first two Tests of the three-match campaign against the Proteas, will return to Adelaide once the coin toss has been completed at the WACA tomorrow morning.
That will allow him to play for South Australia in their Sheffield Shield fixture against Tasmania that begins at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.
He will then rejoin the Test squad as they begin preparations for the second Test in Hobart next week.
Despite him playing only a handful of Matador BBQs One-Day Cup matches and a sole Shield hit-out for Victoria since returning from injury, the selectors believe Siddle has done sufficient work to get him through the rigours of a five-day Test.
Smith said it was the 31-year-old Victorian's 61 Tests of experience that gave him the edge over the uncapped Mennie with both vying to fill the same role.
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"They're the kind of bowlers that can really tie up an end ... who can hit consistent areas and build good pressure and keep runs down," Smith told reporters at the WACA today.
"We've gone with Sidds for this Test and it's good to have him back as well after a fair injury lay-off."
Australia's vice-captain, opening batsman David Warner, said Siddle had found some extra pace in the nets.
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"Credit to him (Siddle) for getting himself ready and fit," Warner told reporters this week.
"He's bowing faster than I've faced in previous times.
"He feels fit, he's bowling good line and length, and he was troubling our batsmen in the nets.
"He's one of those bowlers when he hits (a difficult) line and length and there's a little bit in that wicket he's hard to face.
"He's been our rock for many years now and he's got the games under him and the experience to know what to bring out here."
None of the fast bowlers were at Australia’s optional Test-eve training session at the WACA this morning, although allrounder Mitchell Marsh did take part as a batsman.
South Africa will train at the ground later today but are not expected to finalise their starting XI until tomorrow morning.
"I've watch him pretty closely over the past six months and I think he's made a lot of improvements in his game," Smith said of his allrounder today.
"We've been working on him play the ball a bit softer in his hands in defence.
"I know if he spends a lot of time out in the middle he can score incredibly quickly, he hits the ball as hard as anyone."
Australia XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Joe Mennie (12th man).
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