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Rain clouds Aussies Test selection plans

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Cloudy weather means Australia's XI for the second Test against South Africa may not become clear until the morning of day one in Hobart.

Shaun Marsh (broken finger) and Peter Siddle (back) are both confirmed omissions, with Joe Burns and debutant Joe Mennie set to take their place in the team beaten by 177 runs at the WACA.

But there could be four changes for Australia, reeling from their first loss in the opening Test of a home summer since 1988.

Callum Feruson could be drafted into a misfiring middle order, regardless of whether Adam Voges' hamstring is up to scratch, while Jackson Bird is on stand-by should Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood pull up sore.

If any of those players were hoping for clarity before Saturday it may not be forthcoming, with coach Darren Lehmann conscious of rain forecast for the first four days of the Test.

"We'll probably even wait until the morning of the game (to select the team), mainly because of the weather and what's going to happen," Lehmann told RadioTAB.

"We'll probably do it really late this time.

"It's (predicted to be) pretty cool and chilly with some rain in the first couple of days, so we'll have to wait and see."

Lehmann, under pressure to turn things around after Australia dropped a fourth-straight Test, and selectors generally settle on a Test side well in advance of the toss.

One notable break with tradition came during last year's Ashes when Lehmann and chairman of selectors Rod Marsh agonised over which Marsh brother to pick for the crunch clash at Trent Bridge.

They went with Shaun Marsh in an attempt to beef up the batting order but watched in horror as he fell for a duck and Australia were skittled for 60, essentially handing over the urn on day one.

The contest that starts on Saturday may not be as momentous but there are parallels. Australia are desperate to level the series and Mitch Marsh's place in the side is in jeopardy.

"I expect a really good showing ... they've recovered well," Lehmann said.

Mennie predicted Hazlewood and Starc would both be fit for the game.

"They had a big workload last week but they are upbeat at the moment and they look fine, they look ready to go again," Mennie said.

The forecast is gloomy for Saturday when there is a 90 per cent chance of rain, but Steve Smith has shown he's willing to be creative in an effort to force a result.

West Indies counterpart Jason Holder earlier this year rejected a proposal pitched by Smith on day five of the rain-ruined SCG Test.

South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj didn't speculate on just how much Proteas skipper Faf du Plesis would be willing to gamble at Bellerive.

"The two nations' captains are obviously people that want results," Maharaj said.

"Hopefully we can force a result in this game."

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