Peter Siddle prepared to fight for Test place

FIVE doesn't go into three, and fast bowler Peter Siddle knows he needs to produce a stunning performance against county side Kent in the first of two four-day games Australia will play in the lead-up to the Ashes.

The 30-year-old didn't play on the team's recent two-Test tour of the West Indies, and watched on as Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson ripped through the home side's battling line-up.

Those efforts clearly gave that trio a selection advantage for the Ashes, and to make it even harder for Siddle, fast bowler Ryan Harris is back from another knee injury and is chomping at the bit to regain his place in the team.

Harris has been bowling in the nets for several weeks and made his comeback for the Elite International Academy XI against the Hampshire Second XI in a two-day game last week.

The 35-year-old was down on his usual pace and finished with 2-130 from 44 overs on a pitch that offered little assistance to the quick bowlers. Both he and Siddle will be keen to send down plenty of overs against Kent when the match starts later today, the Victorian saying it was obvious there was plenty of competition for places in the team.

"I didn't play in the West Indies and Ryano (Harris) wasn't there, and look how well the boys did," Siddle said.

"That just shows that we've got plenty of options.

"It's going to be hard work for us all to get a spot - out of the five you can only fit in three. It's going to be hard but I think all the boys are up for the challenge."

The West Indies offered little resistance to the Aussie pace battery, with the first Test decided inside three days, and the second Test inside four, and Kent could be a similar situation.

The side is on the bottom of the second division of the county championship, and counts spinner James Tredwell, wicketkeeper/batsman Sam Billings, former England top-order batsman Robert Key and West Indian all-rounder Robbie Joseph among its few international-standard players.

Billings played for England in each of the five ODI games in the recent series against New Zealand, and also in the T20 match between the teams earlier this week.

After splitting the Test series 1-1, and winning the ODI series 3-2 and the sole T20 by 56 runs - with Joe Root making yet another half-century - England has gained a confidence and momentum boost ahead of the first Ashes Test starting in Cardiff next month.

But Siddle warned Australia would provide a different challenge.

"There's not too much to read into that (the Test and one-day series against New Zealand)," he said.

"It's going to be a different contest and an Ashes series brings the best out of everyone. They'll come out fighting hard - we'll be ready for it and we're up for the challenge."

- with INM

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