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Australia vs South Africa: Pacemen Joe Mennie included in the 12-man Australian squad

AAP logoAAP 28/10/2016 Justin Chadwick, Rob Forsaith, and Michael Ramsey


Overlooked paceman Jackson Bird has been told he can't afford to be a mug with the bat anymore after being squeezed out by Joe Mennie in a shock Test selection call.

Bird and Peter Siddle were expected to battle it out for the final pace spot for the first Test against South Africa in Perth, starting on Thursday.

But Bird was surprisingly overlooked in favour of Mennie when Australia's 12-man squad for the first two Tests was announced on Friday.

Although Mennie is yet to play a Test for Australia, his 51 wickets during the last Sheffield Shield season caught the eye of national selectors.

And it seems his superior batting compared to Bird is what edged him over the line.

Mennie is averaging 18 with the bat in first-class cricket, while Bird averages just nine.

"I said to Jackson that the thing that probably cost him a place is his batting," chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said.

"We've got to get runs at the bottom of the order as well, particularly against a very good attack.

"We believe the attack we've chosen is a good enough attack to bowl the opposition out twice. We've just got to get enough runs."

Mennie and Siddle are now locked in a two-horse race to see who earns the final pace spot for the first Test at the WACA Ground.

Siddle admitted it was a bit odd to hear about Mennie's selection when all the talk had been about Bird, but he understood the reasoning.

"If you look back to Mitchell Johnson, Rhino (Ryan Harris) and myself, that was our goal ... to try and get 100 runs," Siddle said.

"You want your tail to be able to make runs."

Joe Mennie bowls during day one of this week's Sheffield Shield match between Western Australia and South Australia. © Paul Kane/Getty Images Joe Mennie bowls during day one of this week's Sheffield Shield match between Western Australia and South Australia. Rod Marsh said batsman Joe Burns, who scored 129 this week against a NSW attack featuring Test bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, was desperately unlucky to miss out on a spot in the squad.

Instead, Shaun Marsh will open with David Warner after overcoming a recent hamstring injury to score 73 and 110 against South Australia.

Usman Khawaja, who recently claimed he was a scapegoat after being dropped during the 3-0 Test series defeat in Sri Lanka, is set to bat at first drop after earning a recall.

Mennie made a disastrous international debut earlier this month, conceding 0-82 in a 142-run ODI loss to South Africa in Johannesburg, but Rod Marsh believes Mennie possesses all the tools needed to succeed at Test level.

"He's not the greatest one-day bowler. But he showed in that last one-day match a little bit of the talent he has," Marsh said.

"He's a real, dead-set professional length bowler. That's what I love about him. That's something that in Test cricket is of paramount importance.

"No one likes (facing) bowlers who bowls a good length.".

Mennie said he had worked hard on his fitness and strength in recent years, and the 27-year-old said it would be a dream to win a Test cap.

"I do feel I'm ready," Mennie said.

"I've got a good knowledge of my game. If there's ever going to be a time, it's now."

Rod Marsh said all-rounder Mitch Marsh was under pressure to perform following a lean run with the bat.


Australia's 12-man Test squad

  • Shaun Marsh
  • David Warner
  • Usman Khawaja
  • Steve Smith (capt)
  • Adam Voges
  • Mitch Marsh
  • Peter Nevill
  • Mitchell Starc
  • Josh Hazlewood
  • Peter Siddle
  • Nathan Lyon
  • Joe Mennie.



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