Sport Cricket Pacemen sore as O’Keefe closes in on Test return
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Pacemen sore as O’Keefe closes in on Test return

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Come in second spinner.

Provided the SCG pitch offers something for tweakers, Steve O’Keefe looks set to return to the Test side on Sunday.

Australia’s attack for the third Test against West Indies is far from settled, with Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle both sore and in doubt.

The pace pair will both be assessed when the Test squad trains in Sydney on Friday ahead of the SCG clash.

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Hazlewood’s workloads have been a concern for team management since the first Test of the summer and he failed to take a wicket in the Boxing Day Test.

Siddle has an ankle problem – he was well down on pace and bowled just nine overs on day four at the MCG on Tuesday.

Steve Smith suggested it was too early to speculate about the pacemen’s chances of backing up after the side’s 177-run win in Melbourne.

However, Smith was far more unequivocal about the prospect of O’Keefe playing as a second spinner at his home venue.

“It’d be good to see a second spinner play and see what he’s got to offer, we’ll wait and see what the pitch looks like,” Smith said.

“If the conditions are going to suit … there’s a pretty good chance we could see a second spinner playing.

“We go to Sri Lanka later in the year, where there is a good chance we’ll see two spinners playing – or in the touring party.”

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West Indies batsman Carlos Brathwaite is bowled by Nathan Lyon. Photo: AAP

O’Keefe will link up with the Test squad in Sydney on Thursday, while Victorian quick Scott Boland remains in the frame to make his Test debut.

Not since 2006, when Stuart MacGill and Shane Warne bowled together at the SCG against South Africa, have Australia used two tweakers in a home Test.

“It (the SCG) has been spinning this year so I would think there would be a real chance of playing two spinners,” coach Darren Lehmann told ABC Radio.

Smith had “no idea” about the extent of Siddle’s issue, with the Victorian expected to have scans soon.

“He had a bit of pain in his foot,” Smith said.

“Sidds could have bowled if he needed to but in the end I thought it was best that he didn’t.

“I haven’t really had a chance to talk to the medical staff yet.

“But he was able to get through and get the job done.”

Smith was also unsure whether Hazlewood’s hopes of playing all six Tests this summer had been dashed.

“We’ll wait and see how he pulls up. It’s obviously a pretty short turnaround between games,” he said.

“We’ll see what the best team is when we get to Sydney. We’ll see what the wicket is like.”

– AAP

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