Cricket: Aussie selectors bide time in filling test spot

Australian coach Darren Lehmann, left, has a light moment with George Bailey. Photo / AP
Australian coach Darren Lehmann, left, has a light moment with George Bailey. Photo / AP

Australia will assess the conditions in Centurion, Johannesburg, before deciding who fills George Bailey's vacant spot in the test side.

Alex Doolan and Phillip Hughes will have one tour match to impress coach Darren Lehmann and chief selector John Inverarity before the highly anticipated three-test showdown with No1-ranked South Africa opens on Wednesday week.

Lehmann will cast a very keen eye on the pair during the four-day match against a South African Invitational XI in Potchefstroom, starting tomorrow.

But the 43-year-old is more interested in what SuperSport Park's curator has cooked up.

"We won't make any decision until we get to Centurion," Lehmann said.

"It will be important for them all to get some form [in Potchefstroom].

"Then we go and have a look at the wicket and work out what we need [for the first test] - whether that's a team with extra batters, extra allrounders or extra bowlers.

"But we won't make that call until we see the wicket."

Proteas coach Russell Domingo has already voiced his demand for strips that will assist pace bowling.

Australia, unchanged through a 5-0 Ashes annihilation of England, are searching for a new No6 batsman after excluding Bailey from the 15-man South African touring party.

The prospect of Shane Watson dropping down the order, allowing Hughes or Doolan to bat at first drop, has been mooted.

Lehmann acknowledged Watson would be bowling "a lot of overs" in South Africa, but suggested no firm decision on the allrounder's best fit in the batting order had been made.

Former opener Hughes, dropped four times in a stop-start test career, is back in the country where he dazzled on debut in 2009.

The then 20-year-old became the youngest player to score centuries in both innings of a test when he flayed an attack featuring Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel.

Doolan has featured prominently in national selectors' thoughts for much of the past two years, having made 161 against South Africa at the SCG in 2012.


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