Ben Hilfenhaus to battle with Starc, Lyon for Gabba Test spot

Sydney: Tasmanian pacer Ben Hilfenhaus will have to battle for a spot in the Australian squad with Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon for next week’s Gabba Test against South Africa.

Hilfenhaus, who took 27 wickets at 17.22 against India after he was recalled for last summer’s Boxing Day Test, would presumably be a strong candidate to take the new ball.

Australia’s bowling coach Ali de Winter is confident Hilfenhaus can overcome a disjointed preparation due to his Twenty20 Champions League commitments to be near his best by the time the selectors choose the first Test bowling attack.

De Winter, who helped restore Hilfenhaus’s pace and swing, said Peter Siddle and James Pattinson enjoyed a considerable advantage in their Test preparations, while Hilfenhaus and Starc bowled in short bursts at the Champions League.

“It’s difficult to know how close he (Hilfenhaus) is going to be to his best, we all know how good his best is, but what we`ve known for a long time is that his preparation, as well as Starc and a few others, would be interrupted by short-form cricket, so we`ve put in place the best-possible measures that we think will get them ready for selection,” a leading Australian daily quoted de Winter, as saying.

“The selectors have picked their 12 and we are pretty confident that Ben along with Starc and the others are going to be in a position where they can be as near to their best as possible without having the ideal preparation. More than one Shield game would have been great, and we`ve seen with Siddle and Pattinson the benefit they have had from extra games. In Ben`s case and a few others that`s not the case, but we have known that for a long time and we have dealt with it as best we can.”

“We hope Ben bowls well and gets some wickets in Hobart, as we do Nathan Lyon, and we hope Starc gets through his Shield game [for NSW against Queensland] with some good form as well so the final XI for the selectors will be a difficult choice. We`re pretty happy we`ve got guys who are fit and selectable.”

De Winter, who was at the Champions League to monitor Australia’s pacers, is confident Hilfenhaus and Starc have done enough net bowling with red balls and believes the Tasmanian’s pace and action are in good order.