Siddle, Johnson may lead Aussie attack

AUSTRALIA fast bowler Peter Siddle believes the competition for places among the touring squad's quicks bodes well for the upcoming Ashes series against England.

AUSTRALIA fast bowler Peter Siddle believes the competition for places among the touring squad's quicks bodes well for the upcoming Ashes series against England.

Siddle took three wickets for 68 runs from his 30 overs in the drawn tour opener against Sussex last week to press his claims for a spot in the team to play England in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff starting on July 8.

With left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson seemingly assured of a place and Siddle cementing his hopes, it leaves the likes of veteran quick Brett Lee, the reliable Stuart Clark, Tasmania's Ben Hilfenhaus and spinner Nathan Hauritz all batting for spots in Australia's attack.

Australia's chairperson of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, the former Test batsman, is due to arrive in England ahead of the squad's final warm-up match against the England Lions at Worcester.

Siddle said of the fight for an Ashes spot: "I think Andrew Hilditch gets in today [Monday] and obviously it's [the squad is] got to be cut down.

"It's going to be tough, but everyone is looking fit and strong and bowling well," added the 24-year-old Victorian, who has taken 29 wickets at 27,65 in seven Tests since making his debut against India in Mohali in October.

"The competition is good for the team, it makes everyone try that little bit harder and put in that little bit extra so it's great for the team."

Meanwhile Siddle came to the defence of Hauritz. The only specialist slow bowler in the squad, the off-spinner has long been portrayed as the weakest link in Australia's attack and managed just one wicket for 158 runs in 38 overs against Sussex.

England have three spinners in their squad: Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and the uncapped Adil Rashid, though the important question will be how well each side plays the other's slow bowlers, if selected, rather than between the spinners.

"I think it's just an English way of getting at us a bit, saying that we're a bit weak with the spin," Siddle said.

"But Hauritz in the second innings bowled superbly and Marcus North also bowled well so I think it's just them trying to talk themselves up, having those three spinners in their squad.

"We've got the quicks there to back up the few spin options and I'm sure our bowling attack will be fine on those wickets." - AFP

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