Ex-Oz players says Siddle should play Perth Test

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PERTH - Australia Test greats Kim Hughes and Ian Healy are leading a chorus in urging the selectors not to dump Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle for the Perth Test.

Siddle is reportedly under pressure to retain his spot, three weeks after routing England in Brisbane.

A storm is brewing over the possibility that Australia’s hat-trick hero Peter Siddle could be dropped for the third Ashes Test here.

“I would not agree with dropping Siddle. I am a big advocate for continuity. Three weeks ago Siddle was, with the others, given the responsibility of winning back the Ashes and now that could be taken away from him,” Fox Sports quoted former wicket keeper Healy, as saying.

He added: “To me that’s not right. He should be given a chance to complete this job. If you are going to be serious about selecting teams like this, then subject the batsmen to the same rules.

Healy said: “I disagree with this business of players who are being dropped floating around on the periphery of the team. They should go back to the end of the queue. Mitchell Johnson is coming back from a two-week holiday. I am sure every out-of-form player would love to have a two-week break, but what they have done has put a lot of pressure on him. What happens if he fails?”

Healy’s comments come after national chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch gave a strong indication that rookie spinner Michael Beer will be handed a debut in Perth.

Asked if Beer would play, Hilditch replied: “I would expect, certainly so.

Siddle was reduced to the role of spectator at training on Tuesday as Johnson and Ryan Harris bowled in the middle of the WACA Ground, then looked on as the pair joined Ben Hilfenhaus in the nets.

Siddle’s demotion would be a dramatic fall from grace and divide the nation. It will be Australia’s 18th team change since March.

Siddle’s hat-trick on day one of the first Test, coupled with his first-day return of 6-54, appeared to have shored up his place for the series.

On Monday, Siddle smashed Ricky Ponting’s protective box and left the Test captain gasping for air in the nets, but Johnson is likely to beat him for a place in the XI.

“The thing that really worries me, if they drop Siddle, is what happens if Mitchell Johnson just doesn’t shape up?” former Test captain Kim Hughes said.

“That would leave you with two seamers plus Shane Watson. It really is a big risk not playing Siddle because they could get caught short.

“I really have my heart in my mouth with Johnson. They can talk all they like about how well he is going in the nets, but I am a great believer in that you can only solve your problems in the middle.

“I think it’s crazy that he didn’t play in the Sheffield Shield game last weekend. Madness.” (ANI)

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