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Boxing Day Test, Australia v West Indies: Injury to Peter Siddle places more pressure on Australia's pace stocks

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Australia are giving serious consideration to playing two spinners in Sydney after an injury issue to Peter Siddle threw another spanner into the works for selectors regarding their management of the country's dwindling fast bowling stocks.

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National selectors already face a dilemma over whether to wrap Josh Hazlewood in cotton wool for the Sydney Test but may now be more reluctant to do so with Siddle under a fitness cloud.

The veteran fast bowler bowled just nine overs on the fourth day due to an ankle complaint.

Siddle left the field briefly for treatment during the first session and though he returned to bowl a further seven overs was clearly the least used of Australia's frontline bowlers.

"He's quite sore," coach Darren Lehmann said on ABC Grandstand.


"They'll do all the scans and ice baths and tell me what he's like."

Although the Victorian claimed the key wicket of Darren Bravo, he was noticeably down in pace having hit the 140 km/h mark during the West Indies' first innings.

Siddle's fitness is likely to have a major bearing on how Hazlewood is managed in Sydney.

The giant quick has made no secret of his desire to play all six Tests this summer but his growing importance to the Test side means he is too valuable to risk in a dead rubber, particularly with the tour of New Zealand looming.

The generous spacing of the Hobart and Melbourne Tests has eased the demands on Hazlewood this month but he has bowled more overs than any Australian quick this summer. Nor did Hazlewood do himself any favours by costing himself the wicket of Bravo through overstepping.

In isolation, Hazlewood's 41 overs this Test would not raise red flags but the short turnaround before the third Test, starting Sunday, combined with the Windies' improving form with the bat will also be considered.

But selectors will also be wary of fielding an inexperienced attack, possibly containing two debutants if Siddle and Hazlewood are both out, no matter how weak the opposition is perceived to be.

There is also a very strong possibility Australia will play Stephen O'Keefe alongside Nathan Lyon in Sydney, which would be the first time they have fielded spin twins since Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill bowled in tandem against South Africa in 2006.

The SCG pitch has offered assistance to the spinners this season but the prospect of overcast conditions this week may force a rethink later in the week.

"The way the wicket's been playing I would think so," Lehmann said. "I would think so. It depends on weather.

"It's been spinning this year so I would think we'd be a real chance to play two spinners."

Mitchell Marsh's rapid improvement with the ball will provide comfort for selectors should they decide to rest their senior quicks, or play spin twins at the SCG.

Lehmann said the all-rounder, who claimed 4-61 to secure victory in four days, had developed into a legitimate frontline bowler.

"And that's a great thing to have in your top six, England have got it with Stokes and they had it with Flintoff before, we've had it with Watson at various stages," Lehmann said.

"It's important to have that if you have a bowler who is quite sore and not quite right.

"It allows you to play with the three frontliners all the time which is important."

Marsh credited Craig McDermott for the changes made during the World Cup which have cranked his pace up to the high 130s, which is comparable to the frontline quicks.

"I was bowling mid 120s, I knew if I worked hard I could get it up to mid 130s where I am at the moment," Marsh said on ABC Grandstand.

"Im running in a bit harder now which unfortunately means I push the front line like Patto [James Pattinson] does.

"Without him I'd still be bowling low 120s. I've worked really hard with my bowling and it's nice to be able to contribute with the team."