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Australia v New Zealand Test cricket: Selection dilemma – Peter Siddle, James Pattinson or Chadd Sayers?

Australia's selectors have to choose between picking an injured quick, the one coming back from injury or another who is uncapped, for the match that will decide the No.1 Test ranking.

Under a cloud: Peter Siddle with Australian team physiotherapist David Beakley.
Under a cloud: Peter Siddle with Australian team physiotherapist David Beakley. Photo: Ryan Pierse

Peter Siddle is under a huge fitness cloud for the second Test after playing only a limited role in Australia's push for victory in Wellington due to back spasms.

The veteran paceman will need to be ready to go at full tilt possibly as early as Thursday for the team's main training session to keep his place in the XI. Siddle's latest ailment is believed to be related to the back problem he had during the Adelaide Test.

Siddle, 31, has now been injured in three of his past four Tests.

Australia were still able to finish off the Kiwis with plenty of time to spare without Siddle, whom captain Steve Smith said could have bowled if required.

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"We'll wait and see how he pulls up over the next couple of days to see whether he'll be fit for that second Test match," Smith said.

Fellow Victorian James Pattinson is favoured to replace Siddle but he too has question marks next to his name. However, the Australians are confident he will be ready,

Pattinson bowled in the nets during the Test after being left out of the XI due to doubts whether he would last the full game. The highly talented but injury-prone speedster has not played a full first-class game since the waterlogged Sydney Test in the first week of the year.

Fully fit, Pattinson, the fastest bowler in the touring party, is one of Australia's most destructive bowlers.

"He's done quite a lot of bowling this week. He's had quite a few sessions and I saw him bowl this morning actually and it looked like they were coming out pretty nicely and quite fast," Smith said.

"So I think he's tracking pretty well to be fit for the next Test match."

The other alternative would be to blood uncapped seamer Chadd Sayers though that would be a risk given the high stakes. The South Australian does not break 130 km/h but makes up for a lack of pace with the ability to move the ball in the air and off the seam. 

The selection quandary highlights Josh Hazlewood's increasing importance to the side. The giant quick set up the game on the first morning and claimed the key wicket of Kane Williamson in the final innings.

"He's developed really quickly," Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum said. "He was probably the junior member of the line-up six to eight months ago, now senior member, he's an excellent bowler who has made adjustments in different conditions to get some good results.

"[He] will be a guy who, when we turn up at Hagley [Oval], we'll need to find a method to keep him out of the game. At the moment he's proving a dangerous bowler."

Australia need only a draw in Christchurch to climb to the top of world cricket – a surprise to many people after their defeat in England last year.

That failed campaign underlined how hard it is to win abroad, which is why Australia, with all 11 playing their first Test in New Zealand, are drawing much satisfaction at beating the No.6 on their own turf.

"I've said for a while now since I've taken over the job as captain that I want us to perform better away from home and win every series we play away from home and I guess this first Test match is a step in the right direction," Smith said.