Siddle says don’t forget me in Ashes battle
The batting battle for spots in Australia's Ashes squad isn't the only one hotting up and veteran fast bowler Peter Siddle has sent selectors another reminder of his skills in English conditions.
Australian selection chief Trevor Hohns has confirmed his preference for five-fast bowlers in a squad of at least 16 when the five-Test series begins in Birmingham on August 1.
Allan Border medallist Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and most likely resurgent Victorian speedster James Pattinson will take four of those spots.
The leaves the door open for one more and 34-year-old Siddle is taking bundles of wickets for English county side Essex to state his case.
His haul of 5-33 against Warwickshire on Sunday took his season haul to 32, at an average of just 20.43, before next week's Southampton showdown between Australia and Australia A, a match which could decide who makes the squad.
Siddle returned to the Test team, after a two-year absence, against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last October. He also shadowed the team around Australia last summer as the perceived next in line, illustrative of his place in the minds of selectors.
His competition for the fifth fast bowling spot could come from the likes of Jackson Bird and Chris Tremain, who took two wickets each for Australia A against the English Lions at Canterbury.
There is also potential for selectors to look to bowling all-rounder Michael Neser, well-regarded for his ability to get big swing with the English Dukes ball which will be used in the Ashes.
Neser took 20 wickets for Queensland in the final four games of the Sheffield Shield season, at an average of 16.9, using the Dukes ball, and also averages close to 27 with the bat in first class cricket.
All the contenders have been picked in the 25-man squad from which the two Aussie teams will be picked to face off at the Rose Bowl in the four-day game from next Tuesday.
Test vice-captain Travis Head will also play in the match but his place in the Aussie batting order looks secure after he smashed his second century for Australia A against the Lions.
Head, who was unbeaten on 139, gave a small but significant fist pump after bringing up three figures, knowing the importance of big runs with at least one member of the top six from Australia's last Test team set to be squeezed out of the Ashes.
"It's always nice to just get runs. I haven't converted some opportunities I have had in the past so it's nice when I have an opportunity to get a hundred to go on and get it," Head said.
"There's always things to work … but my patience, and my ability to do the basics for longer, I was able to do that. I really enjoyed being in there for a long period of time."