Peter Siddle may return to New Zealand for the Boxing Day Test. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge
Peter Siddle may return to New Zealand for the Boxing Day Test. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Dodge

Head could roll again as Aussies look to get funky

Aussie vice-captain Travis Head is once again in the gun, with selectors to consider Michael Neser for a Test debut as part of a four-pronged attack on Boxing Day.

Selectors are refusing to rule anything out ahead of the second Test with Peter Siddle also in contention for a fairytale MCG farewell despite it looking like his career had ended in the Ashes.

Head was dropped for the last Test of the England campaign to make way for an all-rounder, and he is again under pressure after failing to convert a golden opportunity with the bat in Perth.

 

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Travis Head could well miss selection for the MCG Test.
Travis Head could well miss selection for the MCG Test.

Australia coach Justin Langer told Channel 7 on Sunday night that all options were on the table including consideration to play four quicks - a scenario which would open the door for Queenslander Neser to debut and potentially bat No.7 as a bowling all-rounder.

"… We might also if the wicket is like it has been the last few years (at the MCG), we might even be able to play four quicks and a spinner," Langer told 7.

"There are lots of combinations. That's why it's good to see Marnus (Labuschagne) and Travis Head bowling a few overs as well. That gives us a good combination as well."

It would be tough on Head to axe him again when he has made a 50, but ex-greats were united in their belief that the South Australian needs to start cashing in on starts.

Neser averaged 44 with the bat last Sheffield Shield season for Queensland, scoring five half centuries, although if he was brought in as one of four quicks, it would put pressure on Australia's batting line-up, given Tim Paine would have to bat at No.6.

Siddle may not get as much time in the BBL as he initially thought.
Siddle may not get as much time in the BBL as he initially thought.

Matthew Wade's recent hundreds on the Ashes and Joe Burns' status as an opener would likely see them safe from scrutiny if a fourth quick was pondered.

The bottom line is Australia is conscious of bowling workloads at the end of a long year, and that's why Siddle - the Trojan horse capable of punching the ball up over after over on a flat MCG deck - is also back in the running.

"We've started to think about it, the obvious one would be Peter Siddle actually," said Langer when asked about who the new bowler might be at an announcement that the WACA will receive a huge $30 million government injection for a state-of-the-art redevelopment.

"He did a really good job in the Ashes, he's bowling very well for Victoria and it's at the MCG where he's played a lot of cricket. We'll see what happens the rest of this game and then make a decision.

"(There are some workload concerns). It always makes you nervous when a bowler goes down. You always think about the implications for this game but also the cumulative effect of a lot of overs."

Michael Neser will remain in the squad for the Boxing Day Test. AAP Image/Craig Golding
Michael Neser will remain in the squad for the Boxing Day Test. AAP Image/Craig Golding

Shane Warne said on Twitter on Sunday night that Siddle was "a good bowler, but had his time."

Langer said James Pattinson and Neser presented tantalising options, and it's possible they could play as a combination.

"Without doubt, Patto and Michael Neser, they'll be in the squad 100 per cent and we'll look whether we replace Josh with another fast bowler," said Langer.

Pattinson was an integral part of Australia's Ashes campaign and Langer says the Victorian will be champing at the bit after he was pulled out of contention for the first Test due to an alleged homophobic slur.

"(Patto) is always hungry. Anyone who knows Patto, you've never seen energy like it. He's got the drive," said Langer.

"He's said after his back surgery he'll do anything to play Test cricket again. It's a real credit he's got back to that. Being a Boxing Day Test he'll be jumping out of skin to play.

"We also think back to the winter and what's already been this summer, so they are things you keep in mind. We'll go through the process and come up with the best solution."



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