Selectors face a Starc choice for Adelaide
The weather, pitch and some outstanding batting at the Gabba conspired to ensure this three Test series now has only two legs left to find a winner.
Despite its reputation as a haven for batsmen the Adelaide Oval has seen only two draws in its last 10 Tests.
Shane Watson’s versatility ultimately may not have made a difference in Brisbane but Australia is desperate to have him.
Australian coach Mickey Arthur indicated Watson would miss the Gabba with a view to him being right for the second Test but history tells us to treat this optimism with caution.
If Watson plays it will be on the back of no red-ball cricket and, hence, hold its own element of risk.
There is one certainty – Nathan Lyon will play.
The failure of South Africa’s world class quicks at the Gabba put into context the efforts of the local trio in the first innings, which also made it harder to assess.
This column doesn’t proclaim to have the answers but will throw up some considered arguments for thought.
The ‘variety’ of Mitchell Starc’s left-armed trajectory has been the backbone of the many calls for his inclusion in the second Test with most suggesting Ben Hilfenhaus would make way.
But if variety gets Starc in why should it not also keep the Tasmanian in the eleven?
They ran in hard and banged it in but, if you took the human out and look only at the delivery, the difference in challenge for the batsman was minimal.
It was the young charge in Pattinson who clearly finished the Test with the points with a fiery spell on the final day so an element of pressure has returned to his State-team mate.
Pattinson is in.
Hilfenhaus was a star against India last year but discussions over the application of the batsmen from the sub-continent is an important factor when assessing the worth of the Tasmanian’s numbers.
Siddle has been the recent constant in the Australian attack – so much so, that before his back injury in the Caribbean he had played 32 consecutive Tests.
Both senior members of the pace battery were below their best at the Gabba.
If Pattinson, Siddle and Starc are deemed the best three, then so be it, but variety seems a flimsy argument if the young leftie plays and Hilfenhaus misses out.
Starc has the advantage of playing a Sheffield Shield match to press his claims but so too has another quick who provides ‘variety’.
Mitchell Johnson is fit and there are bones in the body of Proteas skipper Graeme Smith that still ache when they see the tattooed leftie running in.
Johnson always a risk / reward proposition but his strike power is something Australia misses dearly and there are important men in the West talking up his prospects.
If a leftie must play, which leftie would the Proteas least like to face?
It’s the right of all fans to play selector, but the men who actually have the job, have a very tough one before hostilities in this series resume.