Starc: Mitchell Johnson is an inspiration
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc says Mitchell Johnson's return to the top has helped his own comeback to top class cricket.PT5M16S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-316hz 620 349 January 21, 2014
Australia on Monday will name a 15-man squad with few surprises for next month's tour of South Africa, with Tasmania's Alex Doolan expected to challenge for a Test debut and state teammate Jackson Bird tipped to return to the national set-up after injury.
A 5-0 Ashes win coupled with the ethos of coach Darren Lehmann has delivered inevitable stability and Australia, riding high after dominating England, will leave with high hopes of seriously challenging the world No. 1 Test nation in its own backyard.
Doolan is poised to get the nod over Phil Hughes as the extra batsman for the three-Test series against the Proteas and he is likely to apply pressure to No. 6 George Bailey, who missed Sunday's third one-day international in Sydney with a groin injury that was not serious enough to threaten his tour prospects.
Likely inclusion: Alex Doolan. Photo: Getty Images
James Faulkner, the 12th man for all five Tests and the hero of Australia's incredible run chase in Brisbane on Friday night, could also figure in calculations for a place in the middle order with his seat on the flight to Johannesburg guaranteed.
Australia's squad, which will not include a reserve wicketkeeper for Brad Haddin, is to be completed by a cabal of fast bowlers, with Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle expected to be backed up by Bird and another quick on the comeback trail from a stress fracture of the back, James Pattinson. Nathan Coulter-Nile who, like Pattinson, has been involved in Australia's one-day series against England and was called in as a standby player during the Ashes, also figured in selection talks.
Cricket Australia management has been busy trying to ensure players not involved in the five-match ODI campaign are appropriately prepared for the South Africa tour by having them feature for state second XI teams in a round of Futures League matches to start next Monday.
With the Sheffield Shield suspended over the Big Bash League CA has been forced to look to the second-tier competition for red-ball practice, a process made more complicated by the fact that Tasmania and Victoria do not have matches scheduled in the round this month.
As a result four players - Chris Rogers, Siddle, Bird and Doolan - are set to be placed with other states. NSW plays South Australia at Blacktown, a game that will include Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon, and Queensland takes on Western Australia at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, where Harris is to play some part. Rogers has already said he will play a cameo role for the Redbacks' seconds.
Haddin, meanwhile, is expected to be rested from the final two matches of the one-day series after a busy summer.
Pending any fitness issues the only selection dilemmas likely to arise before the series against South Africa are in the top half of the batting order, where Bailey is under the pump to perform after averaging only 26.14 in the Ashes.
But while Doolan and Faulkner, both fellow Tasmanians, will be out to win places in the final XI, Lehmann's praise of Bailey last week - describing him as a ''big plus'' to the Australian team - indicates he may get another chance.
Australia will send players to South Africa in two batches, with the first group leaving on January 29. Those involved in Twenty20 matches against England until February 2 leave later. The first Test starts on February 12.