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Siddle backs Aussie pace depth

Cricket

Veteran Peter Siddle has hit back at suggestions of a national pace crisis, noting competition for Test spots is still fierce.

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Australia’s fast-bowling stocks have been severely depleted this year, with Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson both retiring, while Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are currently sidelined with injuries.

Victorian quick Scott Boland, who has played 27 first-class games, has been called into Australia’s squad for the Boxing Day Test having impressed selectors immensely this season.

Siddle admitted it was a time of transition for the country’s pace battery but insisted the depth was still there.

The right-armer pointed to the fact that Rod Marsh’s panel could have called on any one of a number of candidates following Coulter-Nile’s latest setback.

“Bolo’s a perfect example of someone in state cricket performing well and getting picked because of it,” Siddle said.

“There’s still a number of pacemen on the scene that could have been picked that are also performing well. The depth is there.

“Jackson Bird’s a good example of someone that has represented Australia, got injured and is now performing well again. We’re doing alright. There’s enough good pacemen to grab any spots on offer.”

Siddle hopes there won’t be many for a little while longer.

Siddle, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson skittled the West Indies inside three days at Hobart and will likely be given the chance to do so again in Melbourne.

“It wasn’t our best bowling performance but it was still pretty good,” the 31-year-old said.

“None of us will want a rest at any stage.”

Team management remain concerned about Hazlewood’s workloads, as they have been since the first Test against New Zealand.

However, Hazlewood’s hopes of playing every Test this summer were boosted by the ease with which his side crushed the men from the Caribbean.

It meant fewer overs and a longer break for the NSW beanpole, now the leader of Australia’s attack.

“He’s had almost two weeks of rest and he’s feeling good,” Siddle said.

“He’ll freshen up over the next couple of days. We’ll see how he goes throughout this match.

“He wants to play as much as he can and it does always put a big grin on your face when you earn an extra few days of rest… Those follow-ons can sometimes take their toll but thankfully we did it a bit more quickly than we expected.”

Siddle started the three-Test series against the West Indies with a sore back but is confident his trademark durability remains intact.

“I feel good now. Fit, strong and ready to go. I’ve fully recovered,” Siddle said.

“I’ve had a couple of little niggles here and there in the past couple of matches but none of it has stopped me from playing.”

AAP

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