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Underdone quicks a concern for Aussies

AAP logoAAP 5/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Regardless of what transpires at the WACA on days four and five of the first Test against South Africa, Australia face a pace problem when they head to Hobart.

The workloads of Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle were a concern last week for Cricket Australia, when both underdone pacemen were on restricted duties in the Sheffield Shield.

Starc didn't bowl in the second innings of his Shield return, a decision branded "ludicrous" by former skipper Ian Chappell and one chairman of selectors Rod Marsh also publicly disagreed with.

Expect further lively discussions between Marsh, coach Darren Lehmann, captain Steve Smith and high-performance chief Pat Howard next week as Australia ponder their pace attack for the second Test.

If the contest runs for five days, Starc and Siddle will have a break of only four days before the action starts in Hobart.

Starc has already sent down more than 45 overs in the first Test. The spearhead struck late on day three but was largely well below his best in the second innings, lacking control and his usual zip.

Starc delivered a four-over spell in the morning but was restricted to a couple of three-over bursts when the heat was at its most oppressive.

Siddle has delivered a total of 34 overs, Josh Hazlewood has sent down 49 overs. They will be bowling for the third day in a row on Sunday.

Asked about the prospect of Australia's pacemen backing up throughout summer in his pre-match media conference, Steve Smith acknowledged it would depend on how much they had to bowl.

"It's a lot to get through. We will just have to weigh it up Test by Test," skipper Smith said.

"Some Tests might happen a bit quicker and they won't bowl a lot of overs so they will be OK."

That didn't transpire, while a shambolic collapse of 10-86 meant they had limited rest between innings. Australia had an afternoon session in the field on Friday then a full day of drudgery in 37C heat on Saturday.

Starc is bowling with a 1cm open wound in his left leg after a training accident in September. Siddle returned from stress fractures in his back in September.

The decision to pick both Starc and Siddle appeared sound on Thursday, when they combined for five wickets to help bowl South Africa out for 242.

It was being criticised by some pundits on Saturday, when the Proteas powered their lead well beyond 300 runs thanks to contrasting centuries from JP Duminy and Dean Elgar.

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