Brett Lee believes the Australian selectors’ decision to rest bowlers has put them in an awkward situation ahead of Thursday’s squad announcement for the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
Peter Siddle, who was Australia’s best bowler in the second Test at Adelaide, and Ben Hilfenhaus were left out of the side that lost to South Africa in the final Test in Perth.
The decision was taken following their heavy workloads on the final day in Adelaide on the preceding Monday due to James Pattinson’s side strain in the draw with the Proteas.
Mitchell Johnson, Mitch Starc and debutant John Hastings were selected at the WACA ground and enjoyed mixed fortunes as Australia were defeated by 309 runs to go down 1-0 in the series.
Victorian Hastings is almost certain to miss out on a second call-up, but Starc and Johnson performed respectably, taking 14 wickets between them in the match, with the NSW bowler taking 6-154 in the tourists’ second innings and then clubbing an unbeaten 68 off 64 balls.
However, with Tasmanian Hilfenhaus available to play at his home ground, the selectors might opt to leave Starc or Johnson out in Hobart, and former Test quick Lee said resting bowlers is not something he’s comfortable with, despite Siddle saying he agreed with the decision.
“If I was Sidds, I would have been blowing up,” said 76-Test veteran Lee, who’ll play for Sydney Sixers in Saturday’s Big Bash League opener against Sydney Thunder.
“He bowled so well in Adelaide. They say it’s because of back-to-back matches, but that’s Test cricket.
“It’s nothing to do with the planning. That’s what Test cricket’s about – a test of character, a test of courage and backing up within a couple of days.
“If you’re Peter Siddle and you see Mitchell Starc come in and take a five-for, it makes for an awkward situation.”
Josh Hazlewood, who was also called up for the squad in Perth but did not play, was ruled out for up to six weeks on Wednesday due to a foot problem.
The promising NSW paceman has endured a litany of injuries over the past two years and joins fellow speedsters Pattinson and Pat Cummings on the sidelines.
Dennis Lillee was critical of how fast bowlers are trained last week and Lee urged Cricket Australia to take heed of the man who took 355 wickets in 70 Tests at an average of 23.92.
“I reckon there’s too much cotton wool .. with all the preparation they do going into Tests.
“Dennis has 355 Test wickets and they should listen to what he is saying. He’s a class act and been my mentor for 20 years.
“To be a fast bowler, you have to be a good athlete and a good runner – less time in the gym, more time out training and working on a guy’s fitness.
“Injuries can happen and you have to be so careful … but there is a huge emphasis on guys doing their rehab as opposed to doing the actual hard work.
“As Dennis has said, running is such a big aspect for a fast bowler and I would like to see a lot of young guys doing that.”