Melbourne, Nov.5 (ANI): The jockeying for pace spots in the Australian cricket team that is to be selected for the home series against the West Indies could now be reduced to an open race where anyone can win a place.
Team selectors are now faced with a not so comfortable position of not having enough first choice bowlers for the squad, reports The Australian.
Apart from left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson, the others in the running have been pushed to the sidelines by injuries. Brett Lee has a sore elbow, Peter Siddle has a side strain, while James Hopes and Moses Henriques have hamstring injuries. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine is another casualty with a broken finger.
The Australian team hierarchy has known all along that injuries would hit their squad, given the flood of tours starting with a one-day engagement against Pakistan in Dubai in April-May, June's World Twenty20, the Ashes Test and one-day series and current seven-match visit to India.
The decision to select key Test workhorse Siddle for a gruelling one-day tour of India on the cusp of summer has backfired.
It was only in the lead-up to the third clash at Delhi that skipper Ricky Ponting was expressing fears over Siddle's workload.
Johnson, Siddle and Lee all maintain an ambition to be Australia's spearhead. Only one - Johnson, tired after nine Tests, 20 one-dayers and four Twenty20 outings - remains in India, mercifully reinforced by the arrival of girlfriend Jessica Bratich.
The next few weeks will reveal just which bodies have had enough after recent Test and one-day tours of England, the Champions Trophy and India.
Before flying from India, Siddle spoke of his desire to lead Australia's attack in his second summer of international cricket.
"Coming into my second year now for Australia, I need to keep performing and doing what I have done best," he said.
"It will be a telling year. I will have to keep the body right and play as many games for my country as I can. I think the spearhead role is up for grabs," he adds.
Australian coach Tim Nielsen isn't surprised by the current injury plague.
"It is just one of those unfortunate things. We are getting a few blokes who are a bit tired as they have been on the road since May. We knew this was going to happen," Nielsen said.
Plenty of cricket remains with 31 one-day internationals, up to 12 Twenty20 internationals and 10 Tests scheduled until the end of July 2010.
Former Test pacer Jason Gillespie believes NSW left arm quick Doug Bollinger has it him to don national colours regardless of Australia's injury dilemma.
"It's a window of opportunity for him. He is peaking for the next couple of years - Australia needs to acknowledge that and get him in that side. He's a left-armer who can swing the ball into the right-handers and away from the left-handers at a really good pace. These guys are gold. He is a positive around the dressing room," opined Gillespie. (ANI)