Josh Hazlewood on Peter Siddle’s presence in the side: “He is valuable come team-meeting time.” © Getty Images
Josh Hazlewood has expressed his desire to see Peter Siddle chosen as Australia’s third seamer for the WACA Test against South Africa, which starts from November 3, amid talk that a strong first-class record in Perth may play in favour of the potential debutant paceman Joe Mennie.
On what the Australians ardently hope will be a more lively WACA surface than the strip that led to a dull draw against New Zealand last summer, Hazlewood said he wanted to be able to partner with Siddle, who has returned to the fold for the first time since February, when he broke down with a back stress fracture.
Despite a sterling record both individually and in support of other bowlers in the Test team – specially as the foil to Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris during the 5-0 Ashes sweep four summers ago – Siddle has faced an apparent reluctance by the selectors to choose him at various junctures, most notably in England last year.
This time around Mennie has been touted as a possible “into the wind” seamer given his strong record for South Australia in Perth and also a greater spread of matches this year for Australia A and the Redbacks, on either side of two appearances for the ODI team in South Africa. Hazlewood, however, spoke strongly for Siddle.
“It is great to have Sids in the 12 and hopefully he gets a crack on Thursday,” Hazlewood said after the Test series launch at Elizabeth Quay in Perth. “It is great to have an experienced player in the squad who can talk about the different players and the way to go about it. He is valuable come team-meeting time.”
Hazlewood will make his return to the national side having spent the past month resting up alongside Mitchell Starc, rather than playing in South Africa. He admitted the pair exchanged a few miffed text messages as Australia were throttled 5-0 by South Africa.
“It did cross the mind occasionally watching from home,” Hazlewood said. “I didn’t watch too much of it. It was tough to watch at times. You would love to be on every tour and playing every game but the way the schedule is impossible for the quicks to do that.
“Mitch Starc and myself were sending a few text messages back and forth wondering what was going on. Playing South Africa at home is tough in any format. The young bowlers will learn from that.”
The flatness of some of Australia’s recent displays has caused some level of introspection about the way the team carries itself on the field, something Hazlewood acknowledged. “I don’t need to be angrier but I have to have a presence,” he said. “That is easier to do when you are at home and on top and playing well.
“When you are down in the dumps, as we were in Sri Lanka, and coming from behind all the time it is a lot harder to do. If we get off to a good start on Thursday we can lead from the front.”
For that to be possible, many eyes will be on the WACA pitch. “The Western Australia boys who played on it last week said there was a little bit there for bat and ball,” Hazlewood said. “Last year was a bit disappointing and hopefully there is a bit more pace and bounce than this year’s WACA wicket and it gets back to its traditional way it usually plays.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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