Siddle defends sitting out third South Africa test

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Australia paceman Peter Siddle has hit back at criticism of his omission for the third and final test against South Africa, saying his participation would have risked a long-term injury that might have ultimately hurt his side more. Following a draining draw in the second test in Adelaide, Australia took a completely new pace attack to Perth and were crushed by 309 runs to lose the series 1-0.

Siddle took six wickets at Adelaide and emerged unscathed after he carried a huge workload in the absence of injured seamer James Pattinson, but had only three days to recover in time for the final test at the WACA.

“Obviously I wanted to be out there and doing my best to try and win that game, but after going through what I did in Adelaide, knowing that if I had been the one that got injured … it would have put us out of the game by a long way,” the 28-year-old told Wednesday’s Fairfax newspapers. “I think we made the right decision.

“Instead of missing that one match, it could end up being seven matches, including India.” Australia start a three-match test series against Sri Lanka in Hobart next week before heading to India for a four-test series starting February.

Australia’s selectors and fitness staff have come under fire over their player-management, with a glut of injuries depleting their bowling stocks for a second successive home summer. Young pace bowlers Pattinson and Pat Cummins have both broken down with injuries and are expected to miss the entire Sri Lanka series, while all-rounder Shane Watson missed the first two tests against South Africa with a calf strain.

Although workhorse Ben Hilfenhaus is fit for Hobart, only Siddle has been rated a certain starter by Australia coach Mickey Arthur.

Hilfenhaus, who was rested for Perth along with Siddle, had a patchy series against the Proteas after coming in with limited preparation, while the replacement pace trio of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and John Hastings were torched by the South African batsmen in the second innings of the final test.

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